a critiQal film review Skyfall (2012)

Plot: Bond’s (Craig) loyalty to M (Dench) is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

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  • ...Bond should be inspiring and original, not cookie-cutter - like the first two-thirds of this film.

When I saw that Spectre (2015) was available on Amazon Prime, I started watching it – only to realize I hadn’t seen it’s predecessor, Skyfall. While this is okay for most Bond films, it turns out Spectre (2015) is a direct sequel to Skyfall. I hunted around, and eventually found the film I needed to see on Vudu®.

While our reviews of Craig’s previous attempts at playing this iconic character haven’t been great (nothing above 3.5 stars), would Skyfall prove to be Craig’s breakout Bond film for us? Or is it high time he move on and let someone else take over the role?

Daniel Craig still doesn’t fit the typical Bond mold in Skyfall. By now, however, viewers have gotten used to having him this new, grittier, Bond series, so it isn’t quite as hard to see him playing the character anymore. He still can’t talk his way out of a paper bag, but since he’s more the tough, silent type in this film, his half-hearted attempts at dialogue thankfully don’t really get in the way. He’s still as stoic as ever, and even when he gets shot, it hardly seems to faze his tough guy exterior (I nominate him to be the next villain Arnie has to go up against in the inevitable prequel/reboot/sequel to Terminator: Genisys (2015) – he’d be a shoo-in).

Javier Bardem is the villain this time around. Sadly, Skyfall doesn’t really give him the room he needs to act his best, setting him up the typical cookie-cutter bad guy role. He does what he can with it, but, unlike his performance in No Country for Old Men (2007), he doesn’t come off nearly as menacing. It’s not really his fault, but he doesn’t really seem that inspired, either.

The rest of the cast of Skyfall is decent, thankfully. Judi Dench, as always, is a smart choice as M, and Ralph Fiennes matches her talent for talent behind the desk. The new Q, Ben Whishaw, manages to show that younger talent can match up, and is a nice addition to the older cast. He provides a bit of comic relief when needed, and definitely lightens up his scenes – and the film – when it’s needed.

Sam Mendes brings a new approach to Bond by setting the scene with an old-school western feel. While this is surprising (considering his biggest hit before this was American Beauty), that modern-day western feel to Skyfall helps the film tremendously. With impressive cinematography and varied locales interspersed with high-stakes action, Mendes keeps the film rushing along it’s course.

Unfortunately, that course seems a little too familiar, especially the climactic third part, which involves a shootout at an old house in Scotland. This seems to be ripped straight out of another film. In that film, an ex-hitman saves a woman from drowning, and they end up defending his house against intruders armed to the teeth. While the drowning woman is missing, the scenes in this section of Skyfall seem to be very nearly frame-by-frame copies.

With a surprise twist that most will already know about, Skyfall wraps things up a little too nicely at the end. Still, even with that too familiar third part, the first two-thirds of the movie are lushly intense, and viewers should find themselves enjoying the movie as a whole.

Still, for a Bond film, the fact that Skyfall will have you trying to remember where you saw that third act before – that’s just not a good thing. Bond should be inspiring and original – not cookie-cutter. Like, say, the first two-thirds of this film.

I’m definitely looking forward to where Sam Mendes takes viewers in the second half of these direct sequels (Spectre (2015)), so the third act didn’t ruin it too much for me. Hopefully, it won’t for you either. Just wish I could remember what the name of that other film was.

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