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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Skyfall (2012)

We have finally reached the end; this, the culmination of an epic journey of Bondiness. I had hoped to see the film a second time before writing this, but given that my wife’s waters broke last night I don’t think that’s going to be an option! It is also therefore perfect timing for the end of Blogalongabond as I feel my blog posting maybe curtailed for a while. So without further ado, here’s what I thought of the film that 22 months of 00heaven have been leading up to.

I thought that the direction by Sam Mendes was top notch; the film was skillfully, subtly and deliberately made. For example there were several slow camera moves that would lead the eye from character to character or location, linking events together. In particular there is a great scene in the club in Macau, where Bond and Eve move around speaking to each other through their ear-pieces; but as they glide around the club separately, they really dance around each other. It’s these kind of moments that help guide the eye through a scene and make viewing a pleasure.

Not only that but Roger flippin’ Deacons was cinematographer! So of course the whole film looks gorgeous. There was a five second scene of 007 slouching on a bed, drinking a beer after banging some random woman, but it really stuck in my head because it was so beautifully composed: the light from the sunset/rise angles through onto Daniel Craig, just enough to illuminate the knackered (notched) fantastic headboard. Quite an insignificant scene, but etched in my head because it looked so fantastic. Of course everything in the final act of the film looked ace too, everyone’s faces lit up with the orange glow of a burning Skyfall.

It goes without saying that the cast are pretty perfect. Daniel Craig continues to be the best Bond; not just brilliant in action scenes and looking great in a Tom Ford suit, but an actual actor to boot. Ralph Fiennes is good as Mallory (an M with a name!), and Naomie Harris does well as Eve. Javier Bardem is a fine villain, the hairpiece alone proves it, though not the terrifying cold-blooded killing machine of No Country for Old Men. Good that he was able to own an island in Cobb’s subconscious though! Despite his escape from the MI6 secret bunker being a cross between Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs and Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock, his single-mindedness in pursuing M is quite refreshing in the Bond villain hall of shame. No ludicrous “Necklace of Death”, or Sun-focussing death ray, or even playing arms-dealers money on the stock-market; Silva is all about simple revenge.

Speaking of M, let’s face it, this is really Judi Dench’s film. The bond girl isn’t Bérénice Marlohe’s Sévérine (whose trembling lips strangely reminded me of Rodrigo Santoro’s Xerxes in 300); it isn’t even Naomie Harris. No, Skyfall’s Bond girl is M; and Dench is great, finally getting the kind of scenes she has always deserved (though the misogynistic dinosaur bit in Goldeneye was pretty good too). We’ve always know that M has balls (despite her admission to the contrary in Tomorrow Never Dies), and she gets to show it here. She’s quite happy to tell those who consider themselves her superiors or those who are investigating her exactly what she thinks of them, and does her own thing anyway. A wonderful swansong performance from Dench.

We also get a new quartermaster too:

Well something like that. Anyway, Ben Wishaw is pretty good.

The song by Adele is a grower. It’s no You Know my Name, or Living Daylights, or even Live and Let Die. Come to think of it there are plenty of Bond tunes better than Skyfall. However, the song has a melancholy inevitability to it, which is a perfect reflection of the film - especially the startling events of the final act.

I think where Skyfall succeeds is that it doesn’t try too hard, it is almost naturally good. There are still some superfluous scenes, but for the most part everything has a purpose in the film. There are no completely unnecessary car chases, or hydrogen-fuelled exploding hotels, or insignificant characters covered in oil. I don’t think I really have a bad thing to say about it, I’ve only put it 3rd in my list because I think the story in Casino Royale is neater and it was such an incredible breath of fresh air; also I have a real soft spot for You Only Live Twice. A brilliant 007, excellent performances all round, more tremendous action, a straightforward revenge story (though on the other foot from Licence to Kill), and such a crowd-pleasing final scene you wouldn’t believe. All in all, a very fitting end to Blongalongabond.

Blogalongabond will return in... actually it probably won’t this time!

Final order of preference:

Casino RoyaleYou Only Live Twice, Skyfall, GoldfingerThe Living DaylightsLicence to Kill, Quantum of SolaceTomorrow Never DiesOn Her Majesty's Secret ServiceGoldeneyeLive and Let DieThe Spy Who Loved MeFor Your Eyes OnlyFrom Russia with LoveDr NoThe World is Not EnoughThe Man with the Golden GunDie Another DayA View to a KillOctopussyMoonrakerDiamonds are ForeverThunderball