Right this isn't really part of zombie week, and nor does it really have anything to do with what my Blog is normally about. However, I feel I simply must write a review of this film. Plus as I said yesterday I know zombies aren't to everyone's tastes. Firstly if you haven't seen the film yet and intend to, do not read past this introduction. All I will say is this, if you are a fan of the previous two Daniel Craig Bond's, and like the direction the reboot was taking, there's a damn good chance you'll positively hate Skyfall. If you like Roger Moore's Bond though and thought all the gadgets and dodgy plot hole bollocks from that era of Bond's was great, then you might actually like this film. I did not.
Spoiler alert, if you continue reading you will spoil the film if you haven't already seen it... not that you couldn't predict where this turgid predictable bollocks was heading right from the off.
Right I need to get this out of the way right now, I am a fan of the previous two Daniel Craig Bond films. For me Casino Royale actually is the best Bond film ever made. Period. No question, and Daniel Craig's Bond was the most in-depth, and believable of them all. Genuinely I was worried when he was named as the new Bond, not because I didn't like him as an actor, because I do, but because I wasn't too sure what the hell they were planning on doing with 'Bond'. The Brosnan era Bond had imploded in a ball of ridiculousness, product placement and pomposity, and as such many felt Bond was dead and would always remain so. Then I watched Casino Royale, and in those post Jason Bourne days it spoke to the modern world. It was gritty, yet still witty, it was emotional and it was still full of suave James Bond moments that other film franchises could only hope to emulate. It struck the balance perfectly. The fact that Quantum of Solace continued that story arc was a bit of a shock to me, but actually one that I thought was an interesting deviation for a Bond film. True Quantum of Solace wasn't the best film, and at times it was overly bloated, lost its way and seemed a bit too dark for it's own good... but the Bond it presented was still believable and above all else damaged, flawed and therefore interesting.
|I sort of wish I'd left the cinema after this case scene had ended.|
So my concerns for where Skyfall was heading were first raised before the title credits started to role. Literally 60 seconds into the film and there was a facepalm moment. We learn that a HDD from a laptop has been stolen from a British operative, yes that tired worn out old chestnut again... no it wasn't in London, or anywhere else within the UK... but in Istanbul. OK, fair enough, but that the HDD was important because it contained all the names of British and American agents currently embedded in terrorist organisations around the world, makes the whole idea seem utterly *bleep*ing bonkers. Fact is in the previous two Daniel Craig Bond films the various secret service organizations were portrayed as competent well run outfits that might be playing catch up, but were always on the ball. A HDD full of top secret information, and information that MI6 is unlikely to have, i.e. the whereabouts of CIA agents, just seemed like the cringe worthy and over used set up it was. Sorry Mr Sam Mendes are you kidding me? I could have believed some MI5 dimwit losing a laptop on the tube, that sort of crap actually happens. But, an intelligence agency putting that sort of information out there on foreign soil, in a laptop? No. Sorry, just no. Why was it there? What was the reasoning? It's never explained in the film, and we're just expected to swallow this claptrap set up, that you learn as the film creaks on was itself utterly sodding pointless any way!
Why? Well we learn later on that the bad guy, an incredibly camp Javier Bardem, who it must be said did the best job he could with the awful script and terribly conceived character they gave him, is in fact a super clever, totally awesome hacker. Who can actually hack into MI6 anyway. So why the hell didn't he just steal the information right off of the feckless MI6's servers? Hmm Mr Mendes? Perhaps blaming Mendes for that God awful lapse in internal consistency is unfair, perhaps I should aim my ire at this crass piece of story telling at the script writers. So who of the script writing team of John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade thought this whole pointless endeavor was worth it? Or failed to see the flaw in their own set up? I don't know. However, it did serve to set up arguably the best moment of the film, no not Adele signing the theme tune, but a car / bike chase through Istanbul that was actually a piece of classic Bond that was merged with Daniel Craig's modern Bond to brilliant, if over the top effect. But, even this went on too sodding long, and we got Daniel Craig following the HDD thief on to the top of a moving train. I have to be honest and say at this point I expected the train to jump a shark infested river while men with jetpacks shot at Bond with lasers.
|How can a film with Javier Barde as the bad guy be so... weak?|
So on and on it went, getting increasingly tedious and boring, as a fist fight took place and a JCB digger got involved... I don't even want to talk about that. To the writers and director it was serving its purpose. It was telling us that the Daniel Craig Bond re-boot project was totally and utterly dead. As it got more and more ridiculous and ponderous I slowly realised I wasn't going to be enjoying this film very much at all. Don't get me wrong I have a soft spot for all the camp, and horribly sexist Bond films of yesteryear, I really do, but that's where they belong, in the past. If I want a bit of Connery or Moore I can always watch those films. The reason the Craig Bond reboot happened in the first place was because it was a dinosaur of a franchise that was rapidly becoming irrelevant in the modern world. So when they finally climaxed this over the top fight / chase / farce scene with Bond being shot by a colleague and falling hundreds of feet into a river below I think the rather none subtle message was clear, gritty, real and emotionally damaged Bond was dead... long live Austin Powers, I mean James Bond. As always though the direction work was impeccable, I'll not criticise Mendes on that score, the man knows how to frame a camera shot.
So the HDD thief got away and Bond was dead, but obviously not, otherwise it really would have been the crappiest Bond film ever. So here we have the set up, some highly sensitive information has been stolen, it's an embarrassment for MI6 and Great Britain in general. M is in trouble because she's to blame for all this. Obviously she didn't know HDD's could be stolen. D'oh! Bond meanwhile is sulking at a beach resort after being shot by a colleague. Then M's computers get hacked by said villain looking for the codes to decrypt the HDD... erm... script writers are any of you spotting the implausibility of this whole plot set up? No. Let me explain it to your antiquated brains. Right, if the bad guy can crack MI6 servers and take whatever information he likes, and then rig the building using said hacking skills to explode, he really didn't need to steal the sodding HDD in the first place now did he. He could have just hacked the server, took the information and left a virus behind... obviously a camp virus with a laughing Judi Dench head. God it's painful when people with no understanding of computers try to write hacking and techie stuff into scripts, it all ends up sounding like a bunch of bollocks.
|Step away from the computer and use another plot device... please for the love of God!!!|
So MI6 is under attack by a cyber terrorist. OK, fine I'll ignore the obvious plot hole and pointlessness of stealing the HDD for now. But, get anymore ridiculous and I'll tear you a new one I was thinking. Bond hears of the attack and decides his country needs him, why I don't know, he's a fecking soldier not a computer expert. No, who MI6 need is Gary McKinnon! Now I'm going to blow another plot hole open for you here right now. This whole set up is designed to get the bad guy, some chap named Raoul Silva, in a position to kill M, but first like all dodgy Bond villains his plan needs to be overly complex and utterly bloody pointless. You see, James Bond can break into M's house with consummate ease, so why the hell Silva, who we are told was the Bond of his day, didn't do the same is utterly beyond me. Sure I get he wanted to humiliate her, well you've got your HDD now, so drop the information on the world wide web and show her up for the incompetent doddering fool she is... then bloody kill her! If they'd killed M off at the start of the film I'd have been more shocked. That they dragged it out in this utterly lame way just disappointed me. We knew it was coming, the whole film appeared to be a swan song for Judi's character and I hated it, it just dragged on and on, and when it did come it was just so forced and flat. They even gave us her none to subtle replacement early on in the form of Ralph Fiennes. Only a dimwit couldn't see what was coming.
What really got me though, what absolutely shattered any hope of making any sensible future reboots, or trying to blank Skyfall from the history of Bond, is that we now know that this James Bond, Daniel Craig's James Bond, is the same Bond as Connery's, Lazenby's, Moore's, Dalton's and Brosnan's Bond's. They are the same person. Why? Why was it necessary to make that fact? Was it not better to let the audience decide whether they were different Bond's all using the same agent code name, or the same Bond? The idea that there is a golden thread now, that all the Bond stories committed to film are the same man just seems preposterous to me. All that hard work from the Casino Royale reboot completely undone. Daniel Craig's Bond would need a Zimmer Frame to move about if he was the same Bond as was in Dr No. So the mystery at the heart of the films is blown. We've got Moneypenny back and we're back to lame gadgets that quite frankly any recent mobile phone could knock into a cocked hat. Why does he need a rubbish looking radio transmitter? Seriously, why? For kitsch value and nostalgia? What about the gun only Bond could fire? Hmm I wander how these wizards of script writing will use that then?
|That's it love, stand there and pout and try to look sexy... beutiful. Top directing that!|
Then there's the Bond girl. You know, the tradition of having some hot young actress play Bond's bit of crumpet. In Skyfall it is the turn of Berenice Marlohe to get naked in the shower...No, no, no. I thought we'd entered the modern world with Bond 'girls' with Eva Green's portrayal of Vesper Lynd. She wasn't just a sexy body there to fill out some sparkling evening gown, she was a clever, competent and capable individual in her own right. She wasn't just there to get naked and look good, she actually had a role other than the place Bond would park his genitals... and the film was all the better for it. Yes Camille Montes wasn't the best strong female character to have ever been written into a spy film, but the Quantum of Solace Bond girl was again a character in her own right. Berenice Marlohe's portrayal of Séverine is so weak and flaccid that it was difficult to watch. Bond could tell she was a frightened little kitten because her hand shaking could have been measured on the Richter Scale. There's nothing to her as a character apart from a nice curvy figure and a half decent wardrobe. The only saving grace being she was hardly in the film. Huge step backwards for me. But, Naomie Harris' version of Ms Monneypenny was hardly any better either. She existed as a foil for dodgy double entendre and leering eyes too. Plus here's the thing, Daniel Craig isn't very good at delivering the witty one liners like Moore was, many just fall flat.
However, get Daniel Craig's Bond fighting and he steals the show. It is in the fighting and killing that Daniel Craig exceeds above all other previous Bond's. He also Broods far better than them to, and is quite frankly far better at all round acting... but, sadly not at the light hearted stuff. I still think that on the whole the Bond in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace is the best and most 'complete' character Bond has ever had, and here too there are still hints at the dark menacing assassin. It's just his back story has been blown open so it's now boring and they've tried turning him into some 60's / 70's playboy again. The final fight at Bond's ancestral home of... wait for it... Skyfall, while well directed was also slightly over the top. The re-emergence of the DB5 complete with ejector seat and machine guns may have ticked nostalgia boxes, and elicited some laughs from the audience I watched the film with, but there were as many audible groans too. Raoul Silva got a small army and a helicopter to the Scottish highlands... erm... hang on isn't that where much of the SAS training takes place? As I said utterly pointless and M dies any way.
|Why? Just why?|
So I say this to all those reviewers out there who have heaped praise on this film for going back to the Bond roots of old, was it really needed? Bond had rapidly become over the top to the point that even diehard Bond fans were calling it silly by the time Die Another Day was released. The world has moved on, and Bond needed to as well. That's why we had the Daniel Craig reboot in the first place, or have you all forgotten that? No I don't want the Bond films to be the Bourne films, but to not acknowledge that they exist, and have been incredibly popular and well received is just dumb. To take a backwards step and run to the comfort blanket of crap one liners and hammy acting at the first sign of criticism that the new grittier Bond received after Quantum of Solace shows a lack of bravery and cowardice on the studio's, and the production teams parts. Will it do well at the box office? Yeah it will, and no doubt buoyed by this we'll get an even camper Bond next time around, but honestly mark my words, Skyfall is the beginning of the end of James Bond. That so much has been tied up in this film as 'cannon' and that much of the cannon is so rubbish and regressive is I feel a disaster for the franchise. Peace out!