Out with the old, In with the… old

12 11 2012

By Kleinz 57

Okay, seriously who hasn’t seen Skyfall yet? The thing racked up $87 mil this weekend in the U.S. and it’s driving me crazy trying to figure out who all went. I feel like Brad Pitt in the only good part of Troy. Is there no one else? IS THERE NO ONE ELSE???

After 2006’s Casino Royale gave audiences and Bond a shot in the arm that relationship so very sorely needed, we’ve been treated to a gritty, brooding version of everyone’s favorite British sex addict. But even if Casino Royale was widely regarded as 007’s best entry yet, it still fell to a few pitfalls — namely in sticking with outlandish villains and their equally outlandish world domination schemes. This was six years into the twenty-first century after all, and it was time to maybe grow the fuck up a bit. Skyfall sees a Bond story that acts its age, and one that only occasionally dips and forces us to make it go stand in the corner. Bond’s longtime overseer and MI6 Executive Bitch M becomes the target of former agent, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem doing a wonderful impression of Heath Ledger’s Joker) in a plot that’s as personal as it is stripped of grandiose scale. There are two requisite Bond girls here as well, but even Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe are used very unconventionally. Those who championed the Brosnan entries that seemed more like two hour action figure commercials might want to pop in their old GoldenEye cartridge cuz this ain’t yo daddy’s James Bond.

When looking at Skyfall’s core though, this is still 100% 007 and I’d ask those of you claiming otherwise to kindly remove ye’ bonce from ye’ bum. There’s a callback to an old Aston Martin, plenty of nods to Monte Norman in Thomas Newman’s lively score, and the return of a younger, hipster-er Q (Ben Whishaw). But rather than simply update its setting like the more recent installments have done, director Sam Mendes shakes the audience awake to scream, God dammit we need Bond to bring us back to dominance, you cynical asses! Even Casino Royale’s action set pieces, while thrilling, seemed contrived, as if Martin Campbell wanted an excuse to have Bond dick around on a giant jungle gym of scaffolding. Nearly every action sequence in Skyfall is brilliantly choreographed and feels completely organic. A pursuit on foot leading to a motor bike chase leading to a freight train leading to a construction crane leading to a fist fight might seem ridiculous on paper. But it flows with a logic that’s never forced. When you combine that action savvy with camera work that’s never been better, you get masterfully composed shots of Shanghai nightlife and a fight sequence cast in shadow and punctuated only by sporadic gun bursts. Who thinks of this shit? Deakins. Roger Deakins. Bitch. Mendes gives us a strong argument for why the world still needs a womanizing, drinking, killing paradigm of Western excellence. All I can say is, it’s about time white people had their day.

Skyfall’s very last shot is the classic gun barrel stroll. Craig calmly struts before turning to fire. Blood drips down the screen, as it always has in that fakey animation style, and the words 50 Years — James Bond Will Return dissolve below it. If by that point you weren’t already thinking NO SHIT, you should be now. This 2012 entry is informed by Bond’s past (cinematic and fictional) as much as it looks forward. Its final climax isn’t an obvious barehanded duel to the death. It doesn’t involved any timed explosives either, and by comparison, it’s a quieter more intimate culmination. Though it’s probably no coincidence that the film’s extra attention to two rather old characters also slows down the pacing (Albert Finney makes a pointless turn as just some dude who can fire a gun), Skyfall’s showdown is certainly one audiences haven’t seen in a Bond film before — 007 meets Kevin McAllister, to say no more.

If for nothing else than its ability to hold up a cultural mirror, the Bond franchise makes a compelling case for its relevance in 2012. And if the movie wasn’t enough, I dare you to listen to Adele’s spectacular title song just once. I’ve tried that whole ‘You can get a song out of your head if you just hum it to someone else.’ IT DOESN’T WORK. Really, it’s never good to obnoxiously trumpet ‘Best Bond eva’ this soon, since more often than not you look like a huge ass after praising Quantum of Solace for its “smart story” about securing South American utilities contracts. That said, this is easily a top three. I’ll never commit!




One response

12 11 2012
Out with the old, In with the… old: ‘Skyfall,’ reviewed | Majestic Wolf Blog

[…] Is SKYFALL the best Bond ever? We skillfully dodge that question in the latest Mime at the Movies theoffdutymime.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/out… […]

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