Well, as you may have judged by some of my comments today, I saw the film last night and didn't rate it. I met up with Strangeways - by the way, I keep meaning to ask you SW, are you aware your moniker is 'wrong' and it should be Strangways, or is that deliberate? - and he was on his third viewing. Mind you, he was saying it's fab - I wouldn't want to be innocent and in the dock with him offering a testimonial. In fact, having seen the movie after listening to his glowing tributes, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out he's straight, and his idea of heaven is a trip to B&Q on a Sunday morning with the wife and kids before heading out with the lads to watch Milwall...
Anyway... where to start? Skyfall is a bit like Adele's song. Her song is sumptuous, lush, well produced and impressive - it's just not a good tune really. Not one for the iPod. You wouldn't listen to it twice if it weren't a Bond song. Not like the brilliant songs of yesteryear, Nobody Does It Better, DAF, any of them really. I heard YOLT played on the radio straight after Skyfall, now that's a song, works as a song in its own right.
So it is with this film. It looks sumptuous, thanks to Roger Deakin's cinematography, and it has scope and ambition. It just isn't a good movie. It doesn't click for me. In a way it was the same with the director's other films, The Road to Perdition. It looked great, it was heavy with intent, and had a few fantastic scenes in it, but it just doesn't move along. In a way, SF made me think better of QoS, but not much. At least that is relatively grounded, but actually SF is the film QoS might have been had they finished the script and dumped the Bourne-style camera work. Which might be, you'd think, a great Bond film. But no, it has pretensions. These directors shouldn't be let near a Bond film. They can't tell which implausiblities you can get away with, and which you can't. I sense a slumming it vibe, as if to say, well, if this doesn't make sense who cares - it's only a Bond film. Both men are big on symbolism, which I hate in movies when it doesn't connect on its own surface meaning.
When did it mess up? Early on. Bond is on a bike, so far so good, except he's left an agent to die, another charming Mathis moment. He'll disobey M's order when he likes, but not in this case of course! We have a name for a bloke like this in England - jobsworth. Maybe that could be the name of the next Bond film, sung by Adele:
Get the T-shirt
From the foyer
That'll be another 15 pounds please
Anyway, big fail is when he has to get onto a moving train. Now, if you've ever watched Octopussy and thought that it badly needed a shot of Berkoff's General Orlov in a fight on the train in West Berlin, well, you're in luck as that's pretty much how Craig looks. He moves like a bloody crab and it's like it's meant to be like that... Anyway, most of us would pull up to the bridge and jump off, but our man crashed headlong the bike into the bridge and goes flying over, just hoping this will see him land on the train roof. Like you do. Perhaps Moore's Bond could have just crashed his dismantled car into the Pont Neuf and gone through the windscreen.
It goes on like this, silly stuff with the digger on the train takes this far away from the grounded quality of Casino Royale and really they're falling back on the old outrageous Bond stunts/routine to reel us in now. M is the professional irritant, but if Bond is not dead why does he look it when he falls into the water, because he has the camera on him? I mean why would you try to look dead if you're not actually? Shades of Bourne again... Lavish credits of the 'if you didn't like that one, here's another' variety overkill.
I'll keep it short. This is the Craig and Dench show. Both their characters are talked down - with total justification as far as I can see! They both seem to be idiots. Craig is said to be old and past it - only two films back they were trying to make out he was the young kid on the block! So when M is sad she thinks he's dead, why should she care? This isn't the Bond of legend, he's only been on two missions, not world beaters by any standard. This is one way the film tries to tap in to Bond's iconography at the expense of him as a real person. He just isn't a real guy in this film. Sure, Craig has white beard growth and looks 60 - he's good at that - but it's all a nonsense really.
I did like the scene where he is chilling and downing shots with the scorpion, that was cool. But we don't really know how long that has gone on for, weeks or months? Or how he survived the shot. I mean, he was shot wasn't he? Or, we are thinking, was it an elaborate hoax?
Then... how does he break into M's flat again, does she really have no security - and at a time like this, too, when someone is after MI6 and M specifically.
I think the nadir is when he cockily says he can save the trapped girl in Shanghai. Righty-ho! Sneaks on her ship, easily done. Walks naked into her shower, without a by your leave. Oh, the daft scene when he lets the black gal shave him - though he doesn't really know her and may well be a double agent at this stage in the game, ludicrous. Anyway, he thinks he can just show up on his own to meet the villain. Like you do. I mean, good luck with that. It starts to feel like The Man with the Golden Gun at this point, in terms of general believability - yet this is the rugged, credible Craig we're meant to go with.
CGI buildings on the island, like The Expendables 2.
Bond is shown to be morally repugnant of course when he is forced to shoot the drink off her head. It's just a nasty situation, are we meant to empathise and cherish a sociopath. Apparently, because he's British. There's no moral outrage in the bloke, like when he sees the receptionist get shot earlier. He just seems mildly interested. Anyway, at that point the helicopters show up to rescue Bond and there's this daft jubilant bit of brass! Like, hey ho, he's safe! No matter the girl he went out to save is, er, dead!
The villain, well, some sort of Lector/Joker hybrid rip off. During his opening monologue, you'd want Bond to interrupt and say 'Is this going to take long?' The film is littered with dialogue nods to other movies, 'Bring it back in one piece', 'the old ways are the best' and so on, I suppose like when you're banging a minger you might want the memory of past shags to carry you through...
Rubbish! Bond on the rush hour with unconvincing passengers, nothing like as credible as Bourne Supremacy. A tube train crashes - but no one is in it! The team lacked balls, they thought if something went off in Olympic year, they'd be stuffed. So it's the only tube train in rush hour not packed.
Bond of course has the chance to shoot Silva but doesn't, as you do. Bond runs like a robot in this, like Kryton from Red Dwarf. In the boat going across to the Shanghai casino, he looks like a tailor's dummy... But is it deliberate, perhaps? To show how heartless he is?
So it is with Dench's M, everyone calls her 'maam' in this, on and on it goes, is it meant to sound like 'mum'? Is it some ruse by the director, to make her seem a maternal figure? Or just irritating. Dench does her usual blather she's been on since GE about how there are no nations anymore, the villains are in the shadows. This tranlsates as 'We're too PC to make extremist Islam the bad guys'... and I guess she's not heard of Iran. Or Putin's Russia. Burma. China. Course not. Blimey, she deserves to be fired!
FFS! The Aston has an ejector seat. Erm... Don't think so. Or maybe the guy Bond won it off in CR was part of Q branch and had it installed. My mind was just whirling by this point.
To me, the director may be a fan boy, but so was Lee Tamahari. These types just fling a lot of stuff at the wall and hope it sticks.
So off to Scotland, to face up to the villain on your own, like you do. This maybe a metaphor for the Uk attitude to Europe. Or it may not, it may just be rubbish scriptwriting. Who knows? Logan signposts everything a great deal, there's a lot of talk and rubbish obvious exposition throughout the film, all tell don't show. Ooh, what a surprise that Mallory is not such a bad guy after all!
Off to Gotham Towers, for a standoff like the final scene of Bourne Identity, er, but that made sense cos Bourne really was on his own against the forces, whereas Bond isn't, it's just done for dramatic effect. Doesn't phone ahead, oh no. Finds out there are no guns, it all got sold off - cos they thought he was dead? It's a lot of info to take in. It's a different movie by this stage, I couldn't take it in.
M and new pal wandering about in the dark with a frickin torch! Like you would. You know, stay out of sight. Bond going in chase, though he doesn't know Silva is chasing them, for all he knows he's dead. Doesn't bother to pick up a gun from anonymous henchman before running into chapel. Shiny new tombstone from his parents on site. Bond closes his bosses eyes a bit quick, maybe it was wishful thinking! Silva, who seems suicidal, gets his wish to kill M. Bond is the Wayne Rooney of MI6, everyone talks him up, and he cocks it all up. Like in CR, when the villains get away with the money at the end, and the girl dies! What a man! So he takes it upon himself to 'protect' M and use her as bait, and she dies. Mallory gets the top job, which is what he wanted - no wonder he's so happy to see Bond at the end.
To cap it all? Bond: 'I didn't catch your name again... ' No? I mean, I haven't let Strangeways shave me, and I haven't shagged him either, we've met three times but I do know his name actually. I mean, you tend to introduce yourself, that's the way it goes. But Bond has done all that but he doesn't even know this bird's name, bloody hell, at least he knew Agent Fields' surname, if not that she was called Strawberry.
The message at the end is, right, after the revamp we've taken three films to get back to where we were before Dench arrived on the scene, with a secretary and a male boss. Though what Fiennes is doing in this, along with Ben Whishaw, I don't know, it's like a retirement home for theatre thesps looking to pay off a mortgage, they all seem a bit sheepish.
All in all, this film is as believable as Bond's stunt with the Queen for the Olympics, but more pretentious and not as funny.
Last edited by Napoleon Plural (2nd Nov 2012 19:26)
Bond: Mr. Mathis, there's something that's been worrying me...
Bond: Well, you're a French police inspector, yet you speak with an Italian accent.
Mathis: Mamma mia, it worries me, too.