The Aston Martin driving, shaken-not-stirred martini drinking, overtly handsome British secret agent is back in “Skyfall,” Daniel Craig’s third crack at the role of the iconic action hero. Bond fanatics were expecting something extravagant with the franchise’s 50th birthday this year. Disappointingly, director Sam Mendes’s first turn at Bond is a dull affair, all the way to its gloomy third act that will have you hoping it gets better, but never does.
Six years ago, the Bond franchise was reignited thanks to “Casino Royale,” guaranteeing a return to glory and potential for a new era of 007. Its successor, 2008’s “Quantum of Solace” took a slight misstep while still showcasing a few bits of intrigue. The next serving is “Skyfall,” a Bond story that is just doesn’t work like it should.
The film’s opening sequence is one we’ve seen James Bond in the middle of many times: a chase after something incredibly important that has fallen into wrong hands; this time a list of NATO undercover agents. Before he can stop it, 007 seems to have met his maker, but there’s no way that’s happening. The resurrection will bring flashbacks of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, most similar to the bloated and over the top third entry “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Bond’s main mission involves a computer hacker and ex-secret agent known as Silva (a frightening Javier Bardem) that wants some revenge with M16 head M (Judi Dench’s 7th turn as the maternal figure to Bond). M’s life is in Bond’s hands, and the two need to cooperate more than ever to survive. Potential can be seen, but the story stays lukewarm.
I’m all for Bond showing some new tricks, but at least have him play inside his strengths. Impressive action sequences, troubles with femme fatales, or even a suspenseful climax are largely missing. Whatever “Skyfall” is trying to do with Bond’s backstory doesn’t satisfy the questions it raises. I’d much rather see more of 007’s work with his new sidekick Eve (a beautiful but tough Naomie Harris), than what Bond has to work with.
It’d be false to say “Skyfall” does not have some successes. It’s undoubtedly one of the most beautifully shot 007 movies ever. Cinematographer Roger Deakins (“No Country For Old Men”) gives the film’s look real flavor. Appearances by Ralph Fiennes as Chairman Mallory and series favorite Q (Ben Whishaw), will undoubtedly be useful in the future of the series. The theme song, sang by a soulful Adele and placed with an impressive credits sequence, is mesmerizing and fitting.
I still believe that Daniel Craig is one of the greatest to play everyone’s favorite British spy. It’s just too bad he’s being forced to turn Bond into every anti-hero of the last decade. Whoever takes the reigns on the next one will need to come with a better game plan. As an attempt at rekindling the fire that 007 used to have, “Skyfall” is just as stale as the popcorn I ate watching it.
By E.J. Spangler