007 Turns 50 in ‘Skyfall’ (Movie Review)

Please except my sincerest apologies for the delay in getting this online review out to you today.  You see, I had a completely different review that I’d already written in advance and it was going to serve as a lead in here, but I immediately discarded it after my press screening this past Wednesday evening.  It kind of sounds like I’m getting ready to go into full bashing mode, doesn’t it?  Well that maybe so, but don’t worry.  I will always explain the way I feel like I do and feel free to take advantage of the section below that many of our founding fathers died fighting for…the freedom of speech (aka the comments section).  Hold on tight.  This is going to be one bumpy ride.  And remember…I’m the minority here.

After a five-year hiatus while MGM sorted all their monetary woes out, Skyfall arrives on the big screen as the twenty-third film in the James Bond spy series, and probably one of the most anticipated.  However, I feel the need to use the words “spy films” very loosely when it comes to the Daniel Craig franchise.  His Bond is a return to Fleming’s original mold, a stone cold killer, and I love everything about him.  So yeah…it’s like you don’t even need a reason…the BESTEST Bond (IMO) is back…Daniel Craig (save your proverbial tomatoes for after the review).  He’s joined by an all-star cast that features the return of Judi Dench as M, Javier Bardem as the film’s villain, Raoul Silva, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Lim Marlohe, Albert Finney and Ben Whishaw as the lovable Q.  Sam Mendes helms the outing this time around.

Skyfall, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the James Bond series, begins with a big bang…an enthralling action sequence much like its other two predecessors did.  Only this time around (remember…everything I say is my opinion only), things didn’t feel that fresh.  I read article after article how this was going to be better than Casino Royale’s rooftop, base-jumping grand opening was.  Nah.  Not even close.  But we can argue about that all day so let’s move on.

What I like about the Daniel Craig Bond franchise is that he’s still a ladies man in every respect like his ancestors were, but he’s a stone cold killer and that leaves very little room for humor…including in this one.  Many people will see and feel the similarity in tone between Skyfall and let’s say Nolan’s The Dark Knight.  And that’s just it.  What if Batman hung up the cape and cowl and returned to the streets undeniably rusty to fight crime?  It’s the same thing here.  After Bond’s seemingly plunge to death (a fall NO ONE could ever survive unless you were personally touched by an angel), Bond returns back to MI6 in hopes of resuming his career as an agent.  Only he’s out of shape and reinstatement isn’t going to be that easy for him.  But come on.  Throw the guy a bone.  He’s James Bond.  He just turned 50!  He can do anything!

Why did he come back to MI6 and not just stay retired?  That’s a very good question.  Despite the many mean ways M treats Bond and even orders his death (so to speak), Bond feels a need to protect her after a madman, Javier’s character, hacks MI6 and rocks the offices with an explosion.  After a series of physical and mental tests, Bond is cleared back for active duty.  His mission is simple.  He’s tasked with bringing home the bacon… Raoul Silva.  This leads to The Dark Knight Shanghai sequence and it’s around this time when I ponder…ARE THEY EVER GOING TO SHOW THE VILLAIN?  Why did they wait so long?  Half the movie was over already.  Thank God Javier gets extra points for bringing home the creepiness factor or else I wouldn’t have even cared if Bond just picked up another woman and called it a night.

The film basically goes on to play out like The Dark Knight in many ways…tone and story wise (for sakes of not spoiling anything I’m going to let you piece together what I mean here after seeing it) and eventually leads you full circle to what Adele sings so triumphantly about…the meaning behind the word “skyfall.”  Whoa!  Brace yourself.  Don’t get your panties in a bunch.  It’s really not that exciting.  It does refer to something and it will be explained.  That’s all you need to know.

You ever hear people complain about the brevity of final battle between Whiplash and Iron Man in Iron Man 2?  How about yeah!?  It’s like you don’t even need a reason.  If it wasn’t for Cotton Eye Joe…

Here’s the deal.  The filmmaker in me could easily spend time picking apart the film’s plot holes and flaws, but what’s even more excruciating to me is the feature’s runtime.  It felt very long and excessively boring in many areas.  I will make the bold statement that I could easily shave off at least 20 minutes from the film’s 143-minute running time and you wouldn’t miss anything.  There was no need for this excessive length.  Nothing Earth shattering or revolutionary goes down here.  Even the action and fight sequences felt stale and overly choreographed to me.  This isn’t a ballet.  Show me the brutal and bone breaking fight sequences you glamorized in the previous two installments.  I want more!

And here’s where I will take the most punishing of all proverbial blows…my love for Quantum of Solace.  Yes, the film is an utter mess.  And yes, the film’s script was still being written as the film was being shot.  That’s pretty much always a recipe for disaster.  But that pelicula had a sense of raw brutality that spilled over from Casino and successfully yielded me closure.  You had an enraged Bond hell bent on revenge and he took out everyone and everything in his way.  You could see and feel the pain and rage in Daniel Craig’s eyes.  That hits my soft spot every time, not to mention that action packed intro piece.  Wow!  Go ahead and scoff it for its shaky camera and Bourne-like action sequences.  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but Quantum can never do me any wrong.  Some of the same people that put me down for liking Quantum are the ones that think Ghost Rider and its sequel are worthy films to watch over again on the Blu-ray format.  Now I don’t know about you, but that’s scarier than my love for the 22nd Bond film that delivered a fiery conclusion once and for all and brought Bond’s heart and pain to absolute closure without the need to pull a trigger.  His character grew.  Skyfall, unlike the previous two, is a standalone film.  That’s important to know.

I know I’m not the only one who feels the way I do about this flick.  I read both good and bad reviews of Skyfall, but of course…mostly good.  So here’s what I’m hoping for.  I’m hoping my expectations going in were way too high.  Like Prometheus, I’m hoping this grows on me and I fall in endearing love with the film during its second life on home media.  I truly think that is possible.  However, I don’t think I’ll ever love it as much as I do Craig’s first two outings.  That being said, I DO whole-heartedly recommend you go out and experience/support Bond on the big screen because I do recognize I am in the minority of not liking this as much as everyone else seemingly does and maybe…just maybe…I am a turd.  And look at it this way.  Unless you are the Electoral College, you can’t mess with the popular vote, can you?  If nothing else, you can rest easily knowing that you’ll hear the breathtakingly big lungs of Adele.  That’s my only spoiler to you.  Now go.  Go see Bond!  And most importantly know…Bond will be back.  The box office numbers don’t lie.


12 Responses to “007 Turns 50 in ‘Skyfall’ (Movie Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    This reminds me of when Brian was one of the only ones who didn’t have fun with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (also incredibly highly rated and just a stunning action movie through and through) last year.

  2. Brian White

    Which reminds me of that time Aaron made fun of that guy’s red hair right in front of him. 😉

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Daniel Craig weeps for you.

  4. Gerard Iribe


  5. Gregg

    This movie wasn’t very Bond-ish. The incredibly tall, un-survivable fall from the train was just as fake and unbelievable as falling through ice and then running around the Scottish Highlandswith all your clothes still on. What’s hypothermia again? Bardem played a decent bad guy but wasn’t utilized to his or his character’s fullest potential. Also, where were the gadgets? That has always helped define a Bond movie. We had a pistol with hand recognition and a tiny radio. Wow. Underwhelming. The movie had its moments but was tedious in its delivery. Craig’s Bond films have decreased in quality as they’ve gone on.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    Gregg, you’re crazy, this is the most Bond-y movie Craig has done yet. It’s over the top, has exotic locations, almost too many call backs and pandering to other bond films and the theme blasting In a nber of scenes. Gadgets? yeah, it actually had some this time, as opposed to none in the first two Craig films, let alone plenty of time spent with Q. Given that I hated Quantum because it was nothing like a Bond movie, I was thrilled to see Bond back in form.

  7. Brian White

    I agree Gregg
    Javier’s character could have been the best thing ever in Craig’s Bond franchise, but beside that intro scene of him, they didn’t utilize him at all. Just felt like a second rate Joker.
    As far as gadgets I guess I have to agree. What’s the point of having Q if all he armed bond with was a hand recognition gun and a radio transmitter that I could have gave him.
    I don’t know how people can rank this higher than Casino Royale either. That was near perfect, except in the runtime category, in almost every way.
    Thanks for the love Gregg.

  8. Gregg

    Aaron, yes I am crazy, but not crazy enough to say Ghost Rider 2 was worth a 3 out of 5. I have my limits…even in cases of insanity. As for the exotic locations, doesn’t every Bond movie have those? No way this film surpasses Casino Royale. Oh, we haven’t even covered the Bond girls in this film yet. Where were the uber hotties??

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    Completely different movies.

    Anyway, you must really hate Brian’s fav. Quantum of Solace then, since that had nothing Bond at all in it.

    Casino Royale (while awesome and always a lot of fun to watch) isn’t a crazy Bond film either, compared to Skyfall, if your thinking of the more larger-than-life Bond films. Craig’s era is more in line with Dalton’s and GoldenEye, which had almost no gadgets and less women to sleep with, while still delivering on the action.

  10. Brian White

    Okay here’s where I’m confused. How was this Bond film any fun? I was so bored 🙁

  11. Aaron Neuwirth

    Because you’re sad Brian. Daniel Craig still weeps for you.

  12. Mike ketones

    I agree with Brian. I was bored and felt that it was lacking in areas