TV & FILM
bill-swift - October 16, 2012
Remember a little movie from about ten years ago called XXX and no, not the one you have stored in a vault in the back of your harddrive in a locked folder called 'Surgery Photos' in order to dissuade anyone from entering. I'm talking about that Vin Diesel, Sam Jackson spy movie that they made in order to be an 'extreme James Bond.' Well thankfully, I can throw that VHS away finally, because I already have my extreme James Bond, Mr. Diesel, and you know his name.
Apparently I'm not the only person in the world who thinks so. As early reviews pour in for 007's 23rd outing, two things are clear. One-No one remembers Die Another Day (thank God). And Two-Everyone loves Skyfall. But do they love it for the right reasons? Some fanboy criticism of the Daniel Craig's first two outings as Britain's most famous secret agent was that while the films reinvigorated the franchise, it left out the best parts of the 50-year old series. And by that I mean the gadgets, the quips, Moneypenny not getting any for five decades.
So does Skyfall find the appropriate balance between Bond and Bourne to make it as good in reality as it has been in my wet dreams?
Variety seems to think so.
Whatever parallels it shares with the Bourne series or Nolan's astonishingly realized Batman saga, "Skyfall" radically breaks from the Bond formula while still remaining true to its essential beats, presenting a rare case in which audiences can no longer anticipate each twist in advance. Without sacrificing action or overall energy, Mendes puts the actors at the forefront, exploring their marvelously complex emotional states in ways the franchise has never before dared.
And in case you had any apprehension over an auteur like Sam Mendes taking the directorial helm, The Hollywood Reporter eases your mind.
Many of the dramatic scenes would do justice to a non-genre film, and the same can be said of the quality of the acting. The traditional quips surface at times in low-key form; some of them are quite good and they're never corny. The action, much of it presumably staged by veteran second unit director Alexander Witt, is consistently strong.
What the franchise has really been missing as of late is a villain worthy to go up against Bond. And as the Daily Express points out, Javier Bardem nails it.
...he does do rather a nice line in chilling psychopathic monsters. Is he good here? The answer is a qualified yes. He is not a villain in pursuit of world domination like Ernst Blofeld, and he is slightly upstaged by his own hair but he never fails to surprise. That he can make us laugh at the same time only makes him more menacing.
And while everyone looks forward to the globe-trotting exotic locals of a Bond movie, the Screen Daily points out that this is a very British Bond to look forward to.
However, in a bold move, much of this adventure takes place on Bond's home turf, which means the film makes more use of London (especially the underground) than previous series entries and heads out into the gloomy wilds of Scotland for a face-off with the enemy that harks back to Straw Dogs or The 39 Steps and finds Bond relying on skills rather than gadgets (though his Aston-Martin has a welcome cameo) to survive.
But one of the biggest rounds of applause goes to the man himself, Daniel Craig. As Screen Daily says:
It's said that Connery and Moore didn't hit their peak as Bond until their third entries, though Lazenby and Dalton didn't get that far and Brosnan was mired in The World Is Not Enough; Craig also seems to benefit from a third stab that puts all the elements, old and new, in perfect place. At this rate, it seems likely the series will continue indefinitely.
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