Skyfall

Skyfall 2Synopsis: Daniel Craig is back as James Bond 007 in Skyfall, the 23rd installment of the longest-running film franchise in history.

In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty to M (Judi Dench) is tested as her past returns to haunt her. 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

When Bond’s latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows – aided only by field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) – following a trail to the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.

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Welcome to The Critical Eye’s ‘Mission Briefing Version’ commentaries of the James Bond movies.

Via thirteen key categories, over the course of the next few months we will rate and/or comment on each picture in brief. These MBV blurbs will also sometimes feature guest commentators, Bond fans and non-fans alike, thus offering a variety of perspectives on this iconic series.

We hope that you will enjoy TCE’s unique take on the world of 007.

Skyfall

Date of viewing: June 24, 2014

1-SkyfallOpening credits
The Thorn: 7.75 – ‘Skyfall’ begins with Bond on a mission to retrieve a hard drive with MI6 agents’ identities on it. It’s all action, but it has changes in pace, unlike the dizzying opener of ‘Quantum of Solace’. It’s generally pretty good, but it crashes to a halt when Bond uses the crane on the train – a moronic sequence to say the least. The credits sequence was a mix of classic (i.e. Maurice Binder) and new. Not bad.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – I’m a big fan of this new trend of completecgi openings focused more on Bond and less on naked chicks. And in particular, I like the song and the depressing style of this one.

***

2-SkyfallStory
The Thorn: 7.5 – I really like the core idea that a former agent is waging war against MI6, targeting M for his own personal reasons, although it continues the thread of the infiltration of MI6 in the previous two films (Worst spy agency ever, apparently!). But I hate that it leads us to Skyfall, turning the movie into a Western (Bond, shotgun in hand: “Get offa mah porch!”). Like ‘Solace’ it would probably make a good 007 book, but the books and movies are VERY different beasts.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Bond has to uncover and stop a threat toMI6 and to M in particular.

***

3-SkyfallBanter
The Thorn: 9.0 – I love the exchanges in this one – especially between Bond and Eve, who have a great chemistry. The lines are pitch-perfect – not corny, just dry wit. I particularly like Craig’s delivery: he has just the right look in his eyes, all the while keeping his dour demeanour. I mean, I wish this Bond would lighten up, but contextually, his performance is appropriate.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Perfect; great verbal exchanges between Bond and his colleagues and villains.

***

4-SkyfallVillains
The Thorn: 6.0 – Look, I know that Fleming wrote many of his villains with a penchant for homosexuality, but could they first make one of Bond’s allies gay before giving us yet another gay villain? An interesting touch in Bond and Silva’s first exchange is that Bond suggests he’s not at all averse to or inexperienced with sex with a man. Further to that, while I like the character of Silva, I found Bardem’s performance anemic, lacking the required fire and magnetism. At no point did his character leap off the screen.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – JavierBardem, playing Silva, delivers an epic villain. He’s an exMI6 agent that went rogue after being “betrayed” by M. He’s extremely smart and probably can do anything he wants. He has all the resources and know-how to affectsignificantly world order. I like how he tirelessly tries to convince Bond of his views. I didn’t like the choice of making him gay, which is a very oldcliche; however it is notoverplayed and does help in the great dialogs between Bond and him. Also it does offers a nice counter-balance to Bond’s character. It’s unfortunate that he dies, I would have liked to see more confrontations between him and Bond in the series.

***

5-SkyfallBond Girls
The Thorn: 8.0 – Eve shows a lot of promise: she is attractive, down-to-earth, funny and sharp. She makes for an excellent character: she’s not the greatest field agent, but she is quite capable anyway (unlike that loser Mary Goodnight). Severine, the only “proper” Bond girl, is okay – she’s pretty and smart enough, but was all too disposable. M isn’t a Bond girl, but she needs mention because she’s a strong female character and she’s sharp. Judi Dench delivers her best performance of the series here.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 -Severine is beautiful but a prisoner to her employer. Her future is bleak and she knows it. When doomed, might as well end it with a night with Bond.Moneypenny is the biggest surprise of the movie. It is really cool that we discoverMoneypenny and Bond’spast together; it does make sense with their special relationship they have throughout the series.

***

6-SkyfallGadgets
The Thorn: 9.0 – There are very few gadgets in this film, and it looks like the series is going to stay away from them. When Bond glumly expresses his dismay with the palm print PPK and small radio transmitter he’s given, Q retorts: “Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that anymore”. Firstly, I really loved this exchange, but I’m very pleased that Bond is going to stick to more real-world gimmicks now. As much as I like gadgets, after ‘Die Another Day’, I had indigestion.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – I love the low amount of gadgets given to Bond by Q; both make sense and are useful. I like the jokes about the frivolous gadgets made by Qpreviously in the series. I like the low tech mechanisms used in theSkyfall defense.

***

7-SkyfallVehicles
The Thorn: 7.5 – Aside for the Aston Martin DBV, all of the cars, helicopters and other vehicles were pretty standard fare – they weren’t gadgety or outrageous. It was how they were used that made a difference. As with the gadgets, although I like gimmicky vehicles, ‘Die Another Day’ had really gone too far for me. This is a much-welcome respite.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Using the old Aston Martin was neat, however see Worst Moment.

***

8-SkyfallLocales
The Thorn: 8.0 – I thought that the movie looked really good. Hong Kong looked amazing, impressive, what with all the nighttime lights. Macau was breathtaking. But, although they were shot well, Silva’s island and Skyfall were dismal, desolate – appropriately so, but still too much of a downer for my taste.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Not only are the locations great but some sets like the Chinese casino’s water garden are also noteworthy.

***

9-SkyfallStunts
The Thorn: 9.0 – The opening salvo is a perfect example of how good the stuntwork is. Sure, they likely used ropes an stuff, but you can’t tell. Craig is very capable but it succeed because the merging of stuntmen and Craig is seamless.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Excellent.

***

10-SkyfallSoundtrack
The Thorn: 8.0 – Bewildered by the acclaim that Thomas Newman received for this score (especially since I feel David Arnold never got credit for his own excellent work – nor did John Barry, for that matter), I decided to pay attention this time. Newman delivered a very good score – but it’s no better than usual. So why the awards? As for Adele’s opening theme song, it was a return to form after 15 years of untraditional ones. It ends too quickly and the title doesn’t lend itself to a chorus, but, otherwise, it’s top-notch.
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – Excellent; I felt that the music was cleverly used in different ways to support the various type of scenes.

***

11-SkyfallBest Bond moment
The Thorn: Without a doubt, THE moment for me was the very last scene, in which we are introduced to the new M, Moneypenny and the office, which has a classic nautical style reminiscent of the early Bond films. I never saw it coming, for one, but it also promised a return to the classic Bond movies – you could almost watch ‘Dr. No’ right after. That means I HAVE to see the next one to see where the series goes from there! There was another cool moment, and it was when the Aston Martin DBV was revealed – the 007 theme appeared and I got chills. No joke.
The Horrible Dr. B: For me, the best moment is when Bond sails directly to Silva’s island. Simply walking into the villain’s lair is a classic Bond move that I never tire to see.

***

12-SkyfallWorst Bond moment
The Thorn: Seriously, the crane bit on the train during the opening sequence was really bad. I know it was meant to be amusing/awe-inspiring/clever, but I thought it was just stupid. The keys were in the ignition? The thing wasn’t strapped down? Bond wasn’t shot down while he wasted time with this? ‘Skyfall’ has its share of flaws (Bond can survive a 200 meter fall and then elude MI6), but this is exceptionally dumb.
The Horrible Dr. B: One thing that puzzle me is when exactly is this story taking place? Bond looks really old at the beginning; did a lot of time happened between Quantum of Solace and this movie? The fact that he has access to the old Aston Martin from the Sean Connery era, does this mean that he has donea mission with that car before? I understand the cool factor of re-integrating old stuff of the series, but when it serves no real purpose or creates problems, then I don’t like it.

***

13-SkyfallOverall
The Thorn: 7.5 – While I was watching it this time, I was wondering why I hadn’t liked ‘Skyfall’ the first time around; I was having a really good time, even if there were some stupid bits. Then we were taken to Silva’s island, and Bardem made his SUPER underwhelming entrance, and the fun stopped. After that, it was an okay ride, but I gradually lost my enthusiasm. But I like it more than the first time (tapered expectations, and all…). On another note, I really liked Craig’s performance, but I was irked by the fact that he still walks like a brute; Bond wears the suits, but he isn’t suave and sophisticated yet (heck, he didn’t even bother to shave for half the film!). How long will it take? How many Bond films can Craig make before Bond is Bond? Will it only happen after someone else takes over?
The Horrible Dr. B: 10 – The movie has interesting unique features: at the beginning we see a shaken and wounded Bond that needs to hide in order to recuperate. Interesting bearded look. Also in addition to invading a villain lair and trying to foil his plan, there is a role reversal where he has to defend his organization from the villain’s invasion. I’m going to miss Judi Dench’s M; she portrayed her role very well and was more involved than the original M.

James Bond will return

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