Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Skyfall: Movie Review... Last weekend, I watched the latest installment in the James Bond series...and in comparison to Daniel Craig's last 007 film, Quantum of Solace, this flick was pretty good. Helmed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, Skyfall makes up for the poor editing and a bizarre climax (Why would there be a hotel right in the middle of the Bolivian desert?) in the previous Bond movie with an interesting story and a climax that impacts future Bond sequels (assuming Craig retains the role of 007 in a few more installments and the supporting cast stays the same). But more importantly, the Joker-esque villain played by Javier Bardem makes up for the oil-loving sissy mary who was supposedly a bad-ass in Quantum of Solace.
Staying true to the exciting but outlandish chase sequence in Madagascar that opened Casino Royale, Skyfall also begins with an exciting but outlandish car chase and fight scene that takes place in Turkey. (The car chase that opens Quantum of Solace would've been just as exciting if each shot in the scene stayed on-screen for more than 2 seconds.) From there (and going through an opening credit sequence that plays to a song nicely made for this movie by Adele), Skyfall takes on a more serious tone...as a mysterious figure begins to torment M (once again played admirably by Judi Dench) by blowing up MI6 Headquarters in London and threatening to reveal the identity of field agents embedded within terrorist groups across the globe. James Bond arrives on the scene (after being presumed dead since the fight scene in Turkey didn't end so well for him) to figure out who this unknown entity is. After having to go through re-certification as an MI6 agent because he was MIA for quite a while, 007 meets up with Q (played by Ben Whishaw, who is also in the recent Tom Hanks flick, Cloud Atlas), gets a cool gun and a radio transmitter, and is off to Shanghai.
One of the highlights of Skyfall is the scene in Shanghai. Not only does Bond meet Sévérine (played by the beautiful and very tall Bérénice Lim Marlohe), but one of the best fight scenes takes place in this Chinese metropolis as Bond confronts the assassin who we last saw fighting 007 on top of a train in Turkey at the beginning of the film. The cinematography as Bond dukes it out with (and unintentionally dispatches) the assassin on the upper floor of a skyscraper is remarkable. It is after this sequence that Bond actually comes face-to-face with Sévérine, and in turn, they go to a small island off the coast of Macau where 007 finally meets the man who was wreaking havoc on MI6: former MI6 agent, Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem).
As mentioned in the very first paragraph above, Silva is portrayed in a Joker-esque (as in the Oscar-winning version played by the late Heath Ledger) manner by Javier Bardem. Much as how the Joker made a nice little speech to Harvey Dent about how he was like a dog chasing cars in The Dark Knight, Silva makes a nice analogy to 007 about how they are like two rats left standing to fend for themselves after the rest of the rats in this world ate themselves into oblivion. You'd have to watch the movie to fully understand this analogy, but Silva wants—to quote Alfred from The Dark Knight—to see the world burn in Skyfall. Or at least the world of MI6...since everything that he is doing is out of revenge against his former employer, and M in general.
I won't go into details about how Silva eventually makes his way back to London (well okay, Bond bests him during that island confrontation and has Silva taken into custody), but when he does end up in Britain, that's where he does the most damage. As we come to realize, it was always Silva's intention to go back to the UK...as his plans start to fall into place to find M and make her pay for the injustice he faced when she left him to suffer in the last excursion he had as a British intelligence agent. As expected, 007 comes to the rescue once more...and soon he and M evade Silva and his men and escape to a place far away from London that is the reason why this movie is called Skyfall.
I'm not going to post any more plot spoilers here, but in an image that is once again reminiscent of a shot of the Joker in The Dark Knight (particularly the scene where the Clown Prince of Crime plays chicken with the Batpod after Batman flips over that truck the Joker was driving), we see the silhouette of Silva as he stumbles toward a house where M and Bond were hiding before it was completely engulfed in flames. Silva eventually comes face-to-face with M in an abandoned church...but true to his heroic nature, 007 arrives on the scene again to show that he is the "last rat standing."
I'm hoping that Daniel Craig will remain as James Bond for a couple more installments. In contrast to Pierce Brosnan's pretty-boy stylistic approach to his role as 007, Craig looks like the sullen protagonist who would do everything in his power to accomplish the job and save those around him (for the most part... The final scene in Casino Royale kinda contradicts this statement). Some people say that Skyfall is one of the best Bond films yet, and I agree with them. With MI6 now looking different after the events that transpired during this movie, it looks like 007 will have even more resources at his disposal to save the world...while at the same time making out with hot Bond girls in the shower and having martinis that are shaken, not stirred. That is all.