I went to see “Skyfall” last night and I really enjoyed it. I knew nothing about the plot, mostly because I had avoided all discussion of the plot with people who had already seen it and I even avoided reviews as so many these days seem to just rattle off plot points, instead of discussing what makes the movie any good. With that in mind I will obviously try not to give away any of the plot in this brief review.
I think “Skyfall” is probably the most enjoyable Bond movie that I have seen. It takes a lot of the now familiar formula - starting in medias res, lavish animated intro (Adele’s theme song is stunning), a completely unhinged villain - and manages to produce a solid and entertaining film.
In one of it’s blogs this week the Guardian asked whether Bond had become too grim and serious. I’d say that Skyfall does have a more mournful tone but there are hints of light and brightness too. There were plenty of moments where the whole cinema laughed as one. I think the days of Roger Moore’s arched eyebrows are over, as are lazy characterisations of slapstick American sherrifs who are fat and short-tempered. I am glad that “Skyfall” isn’t a po-mo- deconstruction of who or what Bond should represent in the twenty-first century, I like that there is some suspension of belief.
Nevertheless it is a modern Bond film and I think it shows most in the cinematography. There were scenes that just looked wonderfully beautiful and bonkers at the same time. They reminded me of scenes from “Enter The Void” and I think it is great that a populist vehicle such as a Bond movie is being used to introduce people to wonderful cinematography. I realised a few scenes later that it is a large part of Bond’s popularity, that each Bond movie is partly a reflection of our times. For fifty years the Bond movie has been a sort of travelogue introducing (or re-introducing) us to parts of the world.
I thought the acting was excellent and to my eyes Daniel Craig is fast becoming the definitive Bond. Javier Bardem’s turn as the scenery-chewing baddie is really something to behold, though his performance feels a bit wasted in this plot and it might have been better for him to play someone intent on blowing up the moon or something. It’s always good to see Ben Whishaw in anything but he’s underused and I’ve already been spoiled by his stunning performance as Richard II in “The Hollow Crown” on the BBC earlier this year.