Skyfall, Bond Forged in the Fires of Tradition

My husband has a longstanding tradition with James Bond films. It is a guy’s night out for him, his brother and their father. This suits me fine, as I have no nostalgia for the character. I didn’t really start watching the series prior to Pierce Brosnan taking the helm. Of course I was familiar with Connery and Moore as I caught snippets on TV now and again. It was unavoidable but never enough to compel me to watch and entire film.

When my husband returned from his recent outing and raved about how much he enjoyed Skyfall, I was intrigued but could wait for the DVD. Then my friends expressed interest in seeing the film and I decided to join them. What fun it was.

I like Daniel Craig as Bond, but not enough to sit through Quantum of Solace, which my husband warned me off, so I was glad that this film had been lauded by the critics. And because I adore Judi Dench, I was thrilled to see her featured so prominently in a blockbuster action film. How freaken awesome is THAT? Her commanding presence for such a diminutive woman is awe-inspiring. And boy can she hold her own amongst the fellas. Her interaction with Albert Finney’s character is especially sweet. But Javier Bardem, as Silva, steals the show with his not-quite over-the-top portrayal of one of the most memorable and surprisingly empathetic Bond villain in ages.

Revealing the plot risks spoiler territory, so I will just say that for the uninitiated, this film stands alone as an action yarn and the trailer below reveals just enough.

With remarkable action sequences, the film starts with a bang. The spectacular opening chase scene is full of imaginative surprises.  This is high praise from someone who has a serious allergy to extensive movie chases, especially when it is the same old, same old (explosions and jack-knifed tractor trailers, etc). This one definitely passed Ann’s watch test. The following opening credits revealed a stunning CGI montage exquisitely matched to Adele’s beautiful voice singing the title track.

This film has fun with 50 years worth Bond film nostalgia as it pooh-poohs ‘s the gadgetry of days long past and embraces new digital technology. There are many winks to the earlier films, including the re-emergence of the Aston Martin roadster, and the general theme of an aging character. So if you are familiar with the franchise, the film is extra fun and had me giggling, somewhat inappropriately at times (thankfully my friends were also, even if the rest of the audience seemed to be struck mute).

Does this beautifully shot and magnificently scored film bring anything new to a 50-year cinematic legacy? It does somewhat, with respect to the complexity of the villain. Traditional Bond villains are cardboard-cutout moustache-twirling bad guys bent on world domination. Bardem’s Silva is fleshed out with a detailed backstory. Rather than global domination, he is avenging a grievous wrong. Albeit, he does so with resources, complexity and tenacity that beggar belief, but one can actually understand his motivation. What about Bond? We learn new narrative about his youth, which is inconsequential and simply serves the plot. He is still the world’s worst spy when it comes to intelligence gathering. He continues to be followed by a wake of death and destruction. But he remains true to form as a highly effective assassin. Clearly, the franchise depends on him getting the bad guy in the end. Not exactly ground breaking but a highly effective and long awaited resurfacing. I am looking foward to the next installment.


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