Monday, November 12, 2012
I'm very excited to see the return of Daniel Craig's James Bond, and Skyfall is a worthy contribution to the franchise.
It's not quite as sophisticated as its predecessors, and without throwing any spoilers out there I will go over a few of the story elements that take away from it. This installment is definitely focused on positioning, since the story is driving Bond back to his roots. It rides a fine line between classic and cliche' in the process, but I think overall the film works. There's a lot of typical Bond fare like babes, cars and cheesy supervillains, but it plays out with a little more dimension than the average Roger Moore adventure. Javier Bardem is a classic bad guy, channeling the Joker from the Dark Knight to give Bond a crazy foil to square off against. But he's worthy to the task and fun to watch even though his master plan is riddled with holes that can't be explained away by simply saying "he's crazy".
I won't go into those details, but the premise of the story is that a cyberterrorist steals a laptop hard drive that for no good reason has the names of every undercover agent embedded in terrorist organizations all around the world. Why that hard drive exists at all is a mystery to me, but the even greater mystery is why they don't pull those agents out the second the hard drive is compromised. Instead Bond is accidentally shot in an effort to take out the thief and left for dead, which happens before the opening credits, so again I say that's no spoiler. The story follows a flimsy thread where they are motivated by a threat that 5 names a week will be revealed from the list, but again the agents should have been removed from harm the moment the hard drive was taken so you don't really feel the suspense you should feel. This and other threats serve as Bond's motivation to return to the job, and again provide a somewhat thin premise for the film.
The movie returns Bond to his more familiar formula, which is fun even though it takes away from the effort of previous installments to do something new with the character. The action is awesome in the movie despite some over the top moments like a run-in with computer-generated Komodo Dragons. There is also an effort to explore the character's origins, which is interesting, but the story plays out as a series of strung-together set pieces that are fun vignettes by themselves but don't completely work in connection to each other.
Overall, I enjoyed "Skyfall" and I think the movie delivers as promised, but I hope future installments work harder to keep the mission instead of trying to bring Bond back to his glory days.