Skyfall (2012)


So screamed the headlines and entertainment pundits upon the release of Skyfall (2012, PG-13), the latest installment in the James Bond series. This was enough to make me wary. When I started to hear buzz about Oscar nominations for “Best Picture,” I knew there was a problem. Sure, it went on to get 5 nominations, but they were for things like Sound Editing and Score. That isn’t a big deal when it comes to whether or not the movie is good.

The modern selections for “Best Picture,” though? For the most part, we’re talking about extremely dubious company. Still, worries aside, I’m not going to miss out on a Bond movie. To my shame as a reviewer, I did have to wait to Netflix it. And I’m so glad I did.

Skyfall is another effort to humanize the Bond character. On this occasion, it happens when he’s fighting with an adversary who has stolen a list of undercover MI-6 operatives. During the fight, a sniper is told to take a shot at the bad guy, despite Bond being in the way. James is hit and presumed dead. He re-emerges after MI-6 is hit by a terrorist attack. He’s quite worse for wear, though, and is still in bad shape when he goes back into the field. His target turns out to be Silva (Javier Bardem), who used to be one of M’s (Judi Dench) favorite agents until they had a falling out over uncertain circumstances. Now, he wants her dead.

Cue the theme music.

First off, Sam Mendes should never be allowed to direct again. I enjoyed Road to Perdition and didn’t think American Beauty was all that bad. The rest of his work stinks, and he’s been living off his American Beauty accolades for way too long.

Skyfall is an utter mess. I can’t even begin to count the number of plot holes and dangling threads. The “brilliant” bad guy’s scheme essentially involves a series of non sequiturs that only exist to fill time because his final goal is just to walk into a room and shoot M. That’s it. The agent list that was stolen? Forgotten. Bond’s infirmities? They come and go based on the demands of whatever the plot calls for in a given moment.

It’s just one big mess. How anyone could justify this as the “best of” anything is puzzling. The problematic plot points aren’t things that could go unnoticed. They are the essence of what is happening for the whole film. For example, at one point, Bond is after an untraceable assassin. They even call him a “ghost.” It takes them less than thirty seconds to pull up everything about him, including where his next job is. Oh, and Bond waits patiently until the assassin kills a guy to complete said job before he confronts him.

It’s such a mess, it doesn’t even fit in with the loose chronology of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. The Quantum story arc has been abandoned, and M treats Silva as though he’s the first villain of his kind. Someone who uses computer hacks and “strikes from the shadows” and is almost completely underground is regarded as a novelty. Um, isn’t that sort of what Quantum was supposed to be?

Yes, Craig, Bardem, and Dench do a great job with their characters. All that you heard on that note is true. But so what? Good acting only goes so far.

Is there a good statement of Catholic values? It’s a Bond movie. Even on his best day, Bond is still a fornicator extraordinaire. It’s actually worse this time, since he shacks up with a girl who he knows has been abused and victimized by sex traffickers, which comes off as more than a bit creepy. My point here is that there is even less virtue in Skyfall than in other Bond movies, including Craig’s prior outings. While the franchise reboot was meant to give us a darker and edgier take on the character, he still showed emotions in things like wanting payback when a girl was killed. Don’t expect that here.

For any parents thinking to let their kids watch it, you get your standard naked women in the credits. There’s one f-bomb, but the rest of the profanity is mild. The sexual content was a bit more graphic than what I expected. As an example, Bond gets into a shower with a woman, and the glass is amply translucent to tell what’s going on. The creepiness already mentioned might have affected my perception of events here, but it still seemed over the top. Naturally, there is violence, but nothing that any other Bond film didn’t bring to the table.

Take my word for it. Stay away. Bad execution of a bad plot by a bad director with wasted performances. Oh, but you do get to see a CGI Komodo dragon eat a guy (did I mention it was a mess?), so there’s that.

Half a Tiara

Review by Throwback from Popin Aint Easy