Skyfall, Sandy’s Review

Firstly, It’s safe to read this if you’ve not seen the film. I’m not going to reveal any of it’s secrets or plot details.

I’ve never done a film review before and I have not read what those paid to have an opinion on films have thought of this film. That’s those who get paid to see films and write their opinions of them in the press or media in general, what a cool job! Secondly, don’t worry this review will not include anything about the film’s plot as that would ruin it for those who haven’t seen it. I’m fortunate to be one of the first in the world to have seen the film as I saw it last night, just 3 days after it was released. Most people are saying it’s the best Bond film ever, which it is to some and it isn’t to others. I’m going to look at the ‘bigger picture’ about why this is the best James Bond film ever, in my opinion, as usual it won’t be what you might think, possibly. I hope I will convince the non-Bond fans that this film is worth their attention and certainly a viewing. It’s brilliant, read on.

So!  The non-Bond fans will give this a miss based on what has gone before and as this is being hailed the best Bond ever they will be thinking, Oh No! James Bond, but more so! So you decide you’ll give that a miss, but if you do you’ll be missing something amazing. Let’s look at why most people who don’t like James Bond films, don’t like James Bond films.

First things first though, Daniel Craig is the best James Bond. No-one old enough to remember Sean Connery in his prime can remember their own name anymore so he doesn’t count. They would have gone from a Bond film showing to a live concert by a young Frank Sinatra probably.  Roger Moore? Come on, all he could do was raise an eyebrow, mostly his own. There was an Australian for a couple of films, ridiculous. Most recent was Pierce Brosnan, who looked like a slightly adventurous English master from a public School. Hell even I could beat Pierce Brosnan in a fight. No, Daniel Craig is a great James Bond. But back to why non-Bond fans are not James Bond fans. It’s because they think they are all just the newer version of the same old story. The James Bond formula always goes as follows.

The film will start with an opening sequence of James Bond in a tight spot, probably having just completed some derring-do and now fleeing the last henchmen or soldiers of the recently defeated enemy. The scene will include some extravagant chase footage; probably a gun fight or two in which James shoots unfeasibly large numbers of his heavily armed pursuers with only his handgun. He will probably drive an expensive car very fast or ski off a mountain before landing in some pretty girl in a bikini’s lap on a large luxury yacht. There will be a newly composed song especially for the film sung over some creative opening credits.

The next scene is usually back at MI6 where James is reprimanded for exceeding his authority, being a loose cannon or operating outside his orders. Meanwhile the new film’s evil criminal mastermind bent on world domination will start revealing his intentions by blowing places up or stealing expensive things in bulk. James will be told it is up to him to save the world from impending doom or simply financial ruin. He will then meet with Q to have a humorous discussion about his newly invented wide selection of impossibly clever gadgets and get the keys to his sports car which has machine guns, some rockets and an ejector passenger seat.

Next follows the seeking out of the evil criminal mastermind and the dispatching of some minor henchmen. He will have a chance meeting with a beautiful woman loosely or directly associated with the evil criminal mastermind and she will fall for his charms. Eventually James is captured by, or finds himself in the lair of the evil criminal mastermind; let’s call him ECM for brevity. At this stage we will meet the loyal and undefeatable principal Henchman of the ECM. The principal Henchman historically was a giant with metal teeth or a large Asian gentleman with a sharp flying hat, or a person incredibly talented at martial arts. At one stage it was even Grace Jones.

Still with me? The ECM will strap James to some elaborate equipment and tell him all about his diabolical plan and why he is doing it. He will then leave some junior and incompetent minions to torture James to death. They will fail to notice a gadget he has hidden about his person which he uses to free himself and promptly sets off to save the world. He catches up with ECM and his principal henchman who will then proceed to attack James and engage him in a fight to the death. James Bond, the world’s best secret agent, will inexplicably find himself without a functioning firearm so will have to fight for his life with his bare hands or things he finds lying about the scene of the fight. He will prevail in a spectacular fashion probably by beating the henchman to death with a giant ornamental shark stuffed with electricity or something like that. Just the ECM to deal with now, which he will do in some very dramatic, yet ironic way just 1.3 seconds from world annihilation. He will then take a relaxing break from his work with a pretty girl without telling M where he is going. The end

You know that’s true, but it works which is why the Bond franchise is the most popular and longest running in Cinema history. Don’t mess with what works, but boy did they mess with it, in fundamental ways yet kept the essence of how Bond should really be and was intended to be.  You don’t want to alienate the core fans of what works but we also live in a new age. Time and technology, sexual attitudes and world politics are very different now to even a few years ago. So what do you do with the new Bond film, Do you make it like the last ones but bigger, louder, bolder, faster, slicker? Do you go for bigger sets, set pieces, sounds, stunts and super cars?  This film is actually all but also none of those things. The Bond purists who want more gadgets, more girls, more cars, more gun fights and explosions will be the ones most disappointed.

The people who are thrilling to this film are people who want to see some amazing, awe inspiring scenes interspersed with a riveting story line incredibly well acted by interesting, beautiful or challenging characters. They are well rewarded, the film is captivating. I have never had two and a bit hours pass so quickly. The film is true to its roots as a James Bond action film of course but with so many unexpected treats. You see things you least expected and some you wouldn’t think possible but don’t appear to be a result of CGI. The format I outlined above is loosely, ever so loosely adhered to as it should be as that is what people want to see from a Bond film, but it is so much more like a real, proper film if you think Bond films are not.

We have the evil criminal mastermind of course but you will be amazed what he is up to when you find out. You will marvel at what Skyfall is when you see it. There are few gadgets but much modern technology, which will make sense when you see the film.  Bond looks like a proper special agent, a fallible human being though rather than someone you expect to win the day just because he is James Bond. There is political intrigue and some very relevant current examinations of our relationship with those who protect us in the shadows of the dangerous world we inhabit.  Several times I thought to myself. ‘Ok I wasn’t expecting that’

No, the new James Bond is faithful in its own way to the way James Bond films work. But it’s like it has come of age. It is a dawning of a new era.  I can’t imagine, literally cannot conceive of someone who would see this film and not enjoy it. You may not think it’s the best Bond ever, nor even your usual cup of Earl Grey, you may prefer slow moving love stories or romantic comedy. Everyone has room for some adventure and escapism in their life though. This film is brilliantly acted, the script is fantastic, the cinematography breath-taking and it is that much more ‘real’ than previous Bond films. It is much, much more in so many ways because in many ways it is actually less and although an often over used phrase, it has never been truer than in Skyfall, ‘less is more’. That will make sense when you see the film, which you must. I’m going to see it again and again and again. Like I said, It is brilliant!

Categories: Reviews

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

19 replies »

  1. Spot-on, Sandy. Excellent film, and excellent Bond film (adhering loosely to the formula.) I think Daniel Craig is an all-round powerful actor, and I am proud to say I figured out early what Ralph Fiennes’s character was going to be when he admonishes Bond in front of Judi Dench.

  2. Although I usually defer to your normally stylish critiques, I could not disagree with you more about Skyfall Sandy. I found it a V average and much overhyped third outing for Daniel Craig.

    Sorry, I have a list and a minority opinion by the look of it.

    Firstly, I was totally underwhelmed with Daniel (great in 2 previous outings)’ he looked quite over made-up at times and like a tramp at other times – not Bondish at all. Connery will never be matched. In this movie, Daniel was too kitch, too roger Moore-ish and was back to his 70s womanising ways – was this progress or regression to the franchise, worth asking.

    Worth noting that this was Sam Mendez’ first crack at this franchise – hopefully his last. He peaked with American Beauty.

    I don’t know many scots (bond was a scot) who would respond in a word association game when challenged about ‘duty’ with “England”.

    Secondly, the storyline was like a good episode of Spooks (which I like), and the finale reminded me of an exciting Emmerdale plot.
    Javier Bardem, normally an excellent actor, seemed to be channeling Julian Clary ( v funny comedian) for his baddie – where was the Quantum of Solace secret global terrorists they took the two earlier films to seductively introduce to us?

    Chief Bond girl had one speaking part!
    M (dench) was easily best actor and my favourite part of the film, Hopefully Ray ‘Voldemort’ Fiennes will learn to under act a bit more in the next one.
    Q was more like a teenage Brains from Thunderbirds. Sacked!

    The gadgets were naff – the car was a vintage one (albeit a v nice one).

    Hopefully, like Lucasfilm, they will sell the rights to someone who can invest properly in the future of this national treasure of a film series.

    Only thing that could make it more disappointing would have been 3D.

    Must do better: or has the Bourne franchise and more recent gritty others rendered Bond to history?

  3. Stphen, tsk! I’ll refer you to my sentence thus

    ‘The Bond purists who want more gadgets, more girls, more cars, more gun fights and explosions will be the ones most disappointed.’

    Less is more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s