Saturday, November 17, 2012

skyfall: it's personal

the suit fits good.
i've seen a run of unsatisfying movies of late.

skyfall was not one of them.

on the fiftieth anniversary of the james bond movie franchise, sam mendes' decision to mine bond's past as well as  his emotional connection to m paid off in a movie that has everything one could want from a bond film, plus a little extra.  the film nodded to all of the james bond tropes but also forged some new territory, proving the hero's relevance in world whose technology might render the famous bond skills and gadgetry outmoded.  here's a list of things i loved about the film:

1)  its central theme.  when q presents bond with his gadgets, its a shockingly simple kit he receives.  this scene shows, in a nutshell,  what the film is about, and exposes the essence of bond at the same time.  one of the central questions of the film is whether or not bond's skills are antiquated enough as to render him irrelevant (spoiler alert:  of course not, silly!)  at one point in the film, m is asked, "what do you think, this is still the golden age of espionage?" that question is asked, implicitly, in almost every scene.

so skyfall reminds us what is really cool about bond. we love the gadgets, but really, the gadgets always fall into the shark cage or off the edge of a high rise anyway, and then what are we left with?  bond and his villain, mano a mano.  this is when we know why we need 007 more than, say, a semi-automatic.  it's bond's wits and his ability to bricolage his own gadgets in the midst of a surely fatal tight place (as when he re-couples a de-coupled train with a backhoe in skyfall's opening sequence) that gives him lasting appeal as an action hero.  i also thought it was incredibly clever for the film to anticipate and then refute it's own obsolescence.  at the same time, the movie is making a smart cultural observation about human vs. technological powers.

2) javier bardem.  tsking like a mexican grandmother, swaying around like he's on a cat walk, or just looking really creepy, he is one of my favorite bond villains ever.  the script gives him a really excellent motive and backstory that makes him more dimensional than your average villain.

3) ralph fiennes.

the end.

4) the beautiful ladies, bespoke suits, the valentino-esque gowns, the swaroski crystals.  daniel craig in about a million moodily hot silhouettes.

i mean,

i'm only human.

5) it's a pretty talky film, and the dialogue is interesting, complex and surprising.  and m quotes tennyson.  like a whole stanza of tennyson.  and there's not one single moment of shaky, hand-held camera work, which is what i was dreading about seeing the film.  the chase scenes are elegant, and there are many beautiful visual tableaux.

so i like the eye candy.

sue me.

if it was only eye candy, i'd give the film a 'meh'.  but it's got depth and soul, too, and kind of touchingly old fashioned in it's attention to thematic unity and elegance.

maybe i'm just old.

maybe i just want to know that human beings are not quite obsolete yet.


  1. great review! i'll probably see lincoln first. maybe skyfall on dvd??

  2. I LOVED the Tennyson with Bond hoofing it old school through London. And Ralph--yes. I loved it too.