Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
The James Bond movies used to follow a specific pattern regardless of who was playing the primary character. Casino Royale changed the format because, as a reboot, it allowed the filmmakers to try different things with a Bond who was not yet a Bond. This was something new because while the different actors who had played Bond before Daniel Craig had brought their own styles to the part, they had all followed the same pattern. While some may have wanted to do more – George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton for example – they didn’t have either the support of the producers or the desire to go revise the Sean Connery mold. Hence, Bond continued on his traditional path until the reboot.
The choice of Craig was an interesting one because, aside from being a blonde, he embodies all the characteristics of Ian Fleming’s Bond. He also looks like someone who would break your arms and not give a damn about it unlike his predecessor, Pierce Brosnan, who never looked like he could kick anyone’s ass. In his first two Bond movies, Bond was the focus of the story and this allowed us to meet and accept the actor and the character as significantly different but fundamentally familiar. Casino Royale and its sequel, Quantum of Solace, set up the baseline for this new Bond and now Skyfall brings the series to a moment right before Dr. No. In that sense these three films form a trilogy and, unlike most trilogies, the third movie is better than the first one.
Skyfall, actually, isn’t about Bond but rather about M. While critics have gone insane over Dame Judi Dench’s performance in this movie, I don’t think it’s any different from what she’s done before – just that she is a bigger presence in the movie. In fact, everyone has done a great job in Skyfall but the two who really stood out for me were Roger Deakins and Javier Bardem. Deakins, already a legend, continues to astound and his work on the scenes in China are worth the price of admission alone. Bardem, as always, is simply amazing, he has done amazing and subtle work here, and made his Bond villain truly iconic.
Overall, Skyfall is a little long but never boring, fun but never flippant, and serious but not self-involved. I disagree with those that say that it’s a great movie – it’s a great Bond movie, one of the best ever, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the meal: the table, the dining room, and the cutlery are all the same. However, since I went to it looking for a specific meal, I found it filling and satisfying.