It lived up to the hype. All I’ve heard for the last couple of weeks was how Skyfall was incredible. And that description was accurate. It is everything you could ever really want in this current Bond era.
Daniel Craig had already solidified himself as the second best Bond, no one will ever surpass Sean Connery, but this movie makes it difficult for him to ever fall from second-best. He is rugged, mysterious and like-able all the while hiding a dark past. It’s Daniel Craig at his Bond best.
Yet Javier Bardem still blows him off the screen as the villian “Silva.” I went into the film with high expectations for Bardem given all the excitement around his performance. I thought there was no chance he would live up to it. He surpassed even my highest hopes. He’s terrifying, nightmarish and insane all at the same time. He jumps off the screen with a devilish aura and an imposing presence. He also is one of the few Bond villains that can match Bond in brains and brawn (perhaps even surpass Bond intellectually?).
And one of the best moments in the Bond franchise was in this film – the final scene in the church on the outside of the Skyfall Manor. I won’t divulge any details but it was devastating in every aspect.
M was feisty, humorous, hard-headed, indignant, stubborn, steadfast and empathetic – the perfect person for a job like the head of MI6. She cared for Bond but was still responsible for the mission and made that her priority. And Bond being able to understand that has always been his best asset as a 007.
Finally, there were quite a few patented one-liners that were really hilarious. It was helpful to break up some of the intensity with the humor that has defined the Bond franchise.
With all that said, there were a few flaws in the storyline that really interrupted the intensity of the Bond and Silva struggle.
First, the old-school verse new-school struggle that weaved its way through the entire film is a bit blunt. I feel like it hit me in the head at every turn. The first not so subtle instance is when Bond is staring at a painting of a warship being hauled away by a tugboat, the new-school Q, a 20-something computer whiz, comes to sit next to Bond and describes the painting of a huge warship being taken away for scrap metal. This came only a few scenes after Bond is accused of being too old and not fit for duty anymore. Yes, we got it. Bond is old and he may no longer be useful and should be broken down to “scrap.”
Then, Bond is shown to use only a Walther PPK, an old-fashioned pistol, a “traditional” straight-edge razor and orders his patented old-fashioned vodka martini. Bardem also uses “new school” tactics to attack MI6 and Bond and is successful for most of the film. It all felt so forced.
What about the new, tiny radio that Q gave Bond to use as a tracking device? For one, it looks exactly like a computer chip. If Bond was going to let himself get captured, he would have had to find a better hiding spot than his pocket. Ya, Silva, a former 007, is not going to think to check there. Yet, when Silva doesn’t find the chip, Bond has zero reservations. He just kind of accepts that Bardem, a technological whiz and brilliant assassin, didn’t notice the little tracking device in Bond’s pocket.
Finally, Silva creates an elaborate labyrinth of a plan to destroy MI6 and bring down M, complete with purposely derailed trains, hacking the most secure computer defense system in the world, escaping a high-security imprisonment surrounded by several guards and well-placed explosions. And what does all that culminate in? A firefight in a confined space with scores of the highest-ranking officials in the Britian government and armed guards with a pistol and two other goons complete with a single pistol each. That is supposed to be his “grand finale,” where his plan culminates and he comes up with that?
His plan was under his direct control the entire way with every variable accounted for precisely because he limited the amount of variables to his exact liking, yet when the penultimate moment came, he allowed dozens of other variables to interfere? I just don’t buy it. At the end, he seems to bring dozens of armed mercenaries down on top of Bond seemingly at the drop of the hat. But the plan he had been developing for years? He could only dig up two to help him at that final moment.
I understand that he wanted his final killing of M to be an intimate face-to-face encounter, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have found a way to get her by herself at some point. And if Bond somehow found a way to foil that plan, well that’s just a Bond miracle save. But this time around, it was just surreal.
Ultimately, the movie was exciting, intense and filled with electric performances from terrific actors. It’s within the top 10 Bond movies of all time but is a clear second to Casino Royale in the Craig era. I just wish the few holes in the story line were filled. But I can’t wait for the next one with the new vixen Moneypenny.