I applaud the Daniel Craig series of Bond films for taking him in a new direction, even if I do not think it is an entirely successful direction. Bond is back, and Bond is very human. In Casino Royale, but truly falls in love and actually has to convalesce from his wounds for an extended period of time. He even has to be saved from poisoning by his love interest. Skyfall continues along this same vein. This is a Bond that feels, a Bond that bleeds, a vulnerable Bond at times. This makes the endless chase scenes more exciting, because we are keenly aware that this Bond could fail (perhaps even die?)
It’s hard for me to evaluate a modern Bond film because of my memories from boyhood. My mother took me to see my first bond film when I was around 11. I can’t match the enthusiasm or willingness to suspend disbelief that I had then. To my failing, jaded adult eyes, this film scores a solid B. I don’t give A’s to many films, and Skyfall never approaches anything nearing perfection. The talents of Judy Densch and Ralph Fiennes are largely wasted in this film. Oh, their characters are likeable enough, but I wanted much more from their interactions with each other and the rest of the cast. These are heavyweight actors in an action fantasy, I know, but why cast them if you’re not going to let them reach their full potential. There is a deliberate lack of gadgets in this film (which is the source of some self-referential humor in a brief scene between Bond and the new Q) and I’m ambivalent about how that plays out. I like exploding pens and cars with ejector seats. More of that, please. That’s not what this Bond is about, though. He’s about blood and guts, real blood and guts, and he demands the suspension of your disbelief through shock and awe as Bond is battered by forces that are largely beyond his capabilities to effectively confront for much of the film. Roger Moore never seemed to so much as spilled a drink on one of his suits. This Bond goes to work with bullet holes in his. One is left to wonder, in fact the very question is posed by more than one of the characters in the film, why Bond perserveres through it all.
If you’re looking for a fairly innovative take on the Bond character, go see this film. The old theme music is worth hearing at a theater. If you’re at all nostalgic for cars that turn into submarines and watches with lasers in them, you’re going to be disappointed, but perhaps not entirely. There is a notable cameo from Goldfinger towards the end of the film. I could have lived with shorter car chases if it brought the film down to 2 hours instead of nearly 3.
Thanks to Coach for taking care of Lily while Kim and I saw the film.