Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Skyfall: The Next Generation

I'll explain why I entitled this as "The Next Generation", that part does contain some minor spoilers. As we get closer and closer to the end of the year, there seem to be 3 movies left on everybody's must see lists. This, Les Miserables and The Hobbit. So, how does our holiday movie season begin? Very strongly, I am happy to report. Skyfall is without a doubt, the best Bond film that we have seen since Daniel Craig has been cast in the part. In fact, critics have been praising this as being one of the best bond films yet, and I would have to agree with them. This takes the number 2 spot for me, right behind From Russia With Love and in front of Goldeneye. So why does this movie strike a cord with both critics and fans alike? Well, for starters, it has this theme of "out with the old, in with the new" in that they are taking the series in a new direction while still giving the old the respect it deserves. There are many scenes that made me think of scenes from older Bond films, even the ones with Connery. The best instance being when Bond does something spectacular and it is followed by a couple notes from the James Bond theme music. The movie starts with one of the best chase scenes that I have ever scene. It's probably the most thrilling chase sequence since the truck-batmobile chase from The Dark Knight, and that really is saying something. After that, we are treated to a very modern and yet very old fashioned credit sequence featuring a very well written song by Adele. The movie centers around M who is coming under fire from the british government for loosing a very important hard drive, and is being pressured into retiring by another british agent named Gareth Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes. After an attack on MI6's headquarters in London, Bond comes out of hiding (he is presumed dead after the opening chase scene ends very badly) to help his old colleague and mentor track down the culprit, played by a very flamboyant Javier Bardem. If Casino Royale was Bond's equivalent of Batman Begins (taking a much more serious and darker tone when before it was very tongue in cheek), then Skyfall is Bond's Dark Knight. It gets everything about Casino Royale right while going the extra step. And I'd like to emphasize that this is much darker than the past movies I've seen. This is the first time that I've heard them hint at Bond being a substance abuser after his brush with death. It felt kind of weird seeing somebody that you always thought of as invincible be so vulnerable and broken.


 Now, when I said that this was also "The Next Generation", I meant it by both the tone and direction, but also in the cast. We have a completely new crew in the MI6 headquarters. We already have Daniel Craig as the new Bond, we are also introduced to the new Moneypenny, the new head of Q branch (normally someone much older than Bond, now played by a man who looks like he just graduated from high school), and we even get a new head of the department. Yeah, in other words, this is the installment where we see Judi Dench's death and the title of M passed on to Mallory. At first, I was bummed because I would have really liked to see Ralph Fiennes play a Bond villain seeing as how he's played a serial killer, a nazi and a dark wizard. But now that I know the nature of his role and that this will cause him to show up in more Bond movies, I don't think there is much to complain about. However, I do wonder why this ending has not sparked some controversy. After all, we are seeing the death of one of the most enduring characters in the franchise, and someone that I have grown up with in these films.


Of course the one thing that we all love about the Bond films are the gadgets. While I have criticized some of the past films for going too far in some areas, I do admit that I find most of them really cool. Fortunately for both me and the gadget lovers, there are some, but it is still pretty low key. He has a gun that recognizes his hand print so only he can use it, he has a radio beacon that he can use to call in support, and he has the car with machine guns and an ejector seat. Not much else apart from that I'm afraid. The new Q even remarks "What were you expecting? An exploding pen? We don't really do that anymore." Again, noting that they are moving on but still acknowledging a fan favorite of the past in a funny way.

Not much else I can say now, I've pretty much covered every area of the movie that I can think of. I would talk about the Bond Girls, but they aren't in it for very long. So yeah, for a movie that's 2 1/2 hours long, it certainly didn't feel like it dragged at all, you were certainly invested in what was going on the entire time (again, going back to what I said about this being Bond's Dark Knight), which is hard to do, and can go very badly if you aren't too careful.

Final Grade: A+