Skyfall is being hyped as the Academy Award worthy film of the franchise. While I definitely see some great benefits from Sam Mendes’ involvement in the project, I think there is only a good new start of the franchise and cannot speak much of it while not spoiling the film, so be warned. The film is a lot of fun. There are small details added that were probably influenced by a great director like Mendes. Deakins and Newman’s attachment to the film makes it one of the most gratifying cinematic experiences of Bond if not all cinema. I do not believe there was a single performance from the 007 series better than in this film (which is hampered by the issues of the script that probably make it one of the worst 007 films.)
The uselessness of Eve
Sam Mendes has a very quirky sense of humor as seen in his films American Beauty and Jarhead, but I felt it a bit odd especially in this darker version of James Bond. This introductory Bond Girl known as Eve begins the film crashing the car that James is in several times, threatening to lose the MI6 target as well as Craig’s Bond’s life, before shooting Bond while attempting to go for a terrorist that has a hard drive consisting of the data of the most important secret agents in the world! She’s then not seen for the majority of the movie and the hard drive later becomes forgotten despite having such an emphasis in trailers and in the beginning of the film.
And then you find out she’s going to be a recurring character in the rest of the films.
At least she has a desk job this time.
Then the other Bond Girl is introduced with this horrid backstory, has sex than dies brutally without a chance for Bond to remorse, which makes one ponder why the character if any of the Bond Girls should have been introduced in the first place. Why did the girl who was with Bond after he “died” not get more media? Definitely a step down from the use of Bond Girls in Casino Royale.
Did They Forget This Was a Reboot?
What was with the 60s 00 car? I thought we got rid of those 60s gadgets for something more practical and realistic, although it was a nice touch for the 50th Anniversary of James Bond.
I saw some Academy promise for the film, (but then again, where was the nomination for Batman Begins?) There’s a bit of cheese like this in the film that makes one confused as to wanting more Casino Royale or Dr. No.
They changed the role of Q and this is Dench’s last film as M. Dench does a great job for the role, even though the script portrays her as a villain who sacrificed the lives of field agents, who gets a good goodbye without a trial or thought of her role in the agency after actually discussing it, possibly ruining her legacy as M in the franchise. Good fanfiction fodder I suppose. Dench won 5 minutes for in Shakespeare in Love. How could she not get it for M?
Javier Bardem is always a bit scary in these types of No Country for Old Men nihilistic roles. His motivations not fully developed may hurt, but it did not for Old Men. I also get the vibe that the producers or maybe someone Jaws inspired wanted Silva to be disfigured to show the “ugly” side of him, although it could one day be Bond suffering from cyanide poisoning one day in a mission. He is a bit of an homage to horror film villains though he also seems to be a tragic character in the story to be killed off in favor of the villain. Doesn’t make sense? I am confused as well. But at least we had a Straw Dogs showdown in the end!
Let’s talk about Sam Mendes’ influences on the James Bond franchise just from the first film. As for music, like Roger Deakins, Sam Mendes collaborator Thomas Newman is a welcome addition to the team. Adele’s song in the beginning is awesome on a movie projector screen of today.
However, there could be problems with Mendes and his clout giving Dench this year’s nomination. I am assuming Mendes wanted to give higher calibers of acting, cinematography and characterizations in this film, but some of this the current staff just was not ready for it. M is not a sympathetic character in this film, getting her agents killed in situations that make her look like an idiot making bad decisions: Bond is shot and the hard drive consisting of secret agent data is lost as a result of M’s commands. It could have made the Bond universe, more human, more realistic, making tough decisions but instead just makes it look like a flawed franchise. The movie then has a contradictory confusing establishment of Bond assuming she lacked faith in the agents that she hired, even though later on Ralph Fiennes’ Gareth Mallory assumed that she was being too sympathetic towards them. It could have worked if it was different interpretations like with Bond and Silva. But it just remains in the film from confusing narration. I can sort of feel for Mendes regretted having made that decision dealing with the confusing direction of the character. It’s tacked on. It also confuses viewers. What did forcing Bond to kill his former girlfriend and selling powers of Ugandan government have to do with his betrayal from M? I know that the Bond films are not necessarily about great characters, but one would want so in a Batman Begins inspired version of them. Besides being a patriot, why does Bond follow M despite all her follies? Does he actually think she is still fit to be a M?
I love Sam Mendes attention to certain details in the film that other directors would just flat out never think about. However, he later on becomes one of those directors!
He huffs at doing a couple too many chin ups and has problems aiming at rangers too far away. Later on, that is built upon with Bond barely being able to hold on to an elevator and being unable to save the second Bond Girl. (Why did he not just try to attack his men earlier than when he did in the film to save her as well as him?) However, even later on, he’s shooting at least 40 well armed henchmen as well as a stationary target completely ignoring the earlier parts of the film.
James Bond dies, even though I expect a sequel that may not be a reboot after this film
So James Bond is shot, falls into a river and then nobody tries to find him. This is after he almost kills himself jumping off a motorcycle crash into a bridge that would kill pretty much everybody attempting, not because they attempted the stunt, but because the stunt is so hazardous to actually do in real life, and on screen it looks like a sequence from a comical cartoon. He then takes a couple of drinks on a set or location that probably cost at least a thousand dollars to see Daniel Craig drink a liquid adding no depth to his character whatsoever.
The film is overhyped, and it is going to make a ton of money despite it being a lot better than critics are saying, but I think the franchise is better in the long run thanks to the hiring of Mendes.