Full disclosure, I'm not a James Bond fan. Anything before Daniel Craig (Munich, Defiance) took over the titular character always held zero interest for me. But for some reason the new series with him really entertains me and I like the aggressive and stylized approach they've taken with it. If you're a fan of the James Bond legacy and are steeped in 007 history, nothing I say will change your opinion that this is the best Bond film yet. But for me, someone who is new to the franchise and only interested in Craig's versions, it was a little disapointing.
The one thing that I've always appreciated about the Bond series is that they change directors more often than they change Bonds. I think this is noteworthy because the legend must be honored at the same time you want to make it your own. Daniel Craig took over in 2006 with Casino Royale under the direction of Martin Campbell (The Green Lantern) and I still think this is the best one as far as pure entertainment goes. Two years later, Quantum of Solace came out and was as confusing as the title. That one was directed by indie filmmaker Marc Forster (Monster's Ball) and it was pretty dull. Skyfall is directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) and even if you hate his version, you can't deny that it's the best directed of any to come out in the last 50 years. Every single shot of this film is a work of cinematic art.
Oscar-winner Judy Dench (Shakespeare in Love, J. Edgar) returns as M and added to the cast is the always impressive Ralph Fiennes (the Harry Potter series, Schindler's List) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Eat Pray Love); both of which are also Oscar winners. Fiennes is horrendously under used and portraying a character full mystery that I'm sure will resurface again. But the real star of Skyfall is Bardem who plays Silva, the latest in the elustrious list of Bond villains. He is by far the most entertaining on that list and the best part of this film. Unfortunately he doesn't make an appearance until 90 minutes into the movie and we only get to enjoy him for the last hour. But his flamboyent and slightly gay take on the character is incredible, funny and scary.
The running time is the downfall of Skyfall. It's two-and-a-half hours long and feels even longer. We're treated to a heart-pounding, if not confusing, action sequence that will blow your socks off if you see it in IMAX and all before the opening credits roll and then after that we have to suffer through an hour of tedious plot set-up before we see another. People come to a Bond film for three things, babes, bullets and bow ties and the bullets are bookending Skyfall and make the middle feel soggy.
Besides shooting the movie in gorgeous techniques, the other credit to Medes' is the homage to the classic Bond films. The opening credits are five minutes long and utterly stunning. They're to the song by Adele, which is also excellent, and work as a short film and stand-alone art. They're almost worth going to see it again just for them. There are also plenty of really fun homages along the way to make the die hard Bond fans pee a little. This confused me as far as syncing up with the timeline, but I won't address any of that since I fully admit I'm ignorant to the Bond series prior to 2006. Perhaps that might lend an explanation to why I felt like looking at my watch a few times out of boredom and why the 007 true blue fans were jumping up and down in their seats.
Skyfall (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C+