The latest Bond new action movie is a fun romp, but with little substance. Skyfall Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris Directed by: Sam Mendes Running time: 143 minutes PG: violence, coarse language.
In this regard, they always hit you like a stiff martini, beginning with the mental expectation of a blissful buzz, followed by the warm, forehead- melting sensation of an adrenalin- soaked escape.
In truth, James Bond continues to shake and stir us into entertainment abandon because the Ian Fleming character born from Cold War paranoia has now assumed the dimensions of a pop culture god, able to transcend all the petty politics of a given era — even the facial signature of a given actor — and emerge as a timeless force of westernized goodness.
While, the Albert R. ( Cubby) Broccoli movie franchise has been aware of the collateral cultural value of its intellectual property ever since Sean Connery wrapped his sultry lips around a glass of claret, but now that Daniel Craig is carrying the Walther PPK in pocket, Bond is a blue chip commodity capable of selling everything from an unstoppable watch to a six- figure motor car.
Notably, at his worst moments, around the time of Octopussy, the Bond character felt like a cheap gimmick — an aging, sexist, gadget- carrying dinosaur who could not utter a word of dialogue unless it was laced with sarcastic selfreferences. Craig’s possession of the part changed all that. The remake of Casino Royale stripped Bond down to his muscular core once more, reigniting the basic Bond romance by reasserting his darker side.
We believe Craig could kill people without hesitation. He reads as dangerous, unpredictable and most importantly “catlike” — which puts him back in direct contact with Fleming’s original, highly sexual, creation.
In Skyfall, Craig finally gets to have a bit of fun with his alter ego because this time around, Bond gets to go rogue from beyond the grave.
Though Sony has requested that reviewers refrain from unveiling details of the new reel to readers, it’s hard not to discuss Skyfall without a brief synopsis of what happens.
However, the movie opens with a spectacular action sequence, but this time around, the brief encounter on a train doesn’t end the way we expect. It ends with M ( Judi Dench) writing Commander Bond’s obituary. Given this happens in the opening act, we can rest assured Bond isn’t really deceased. Like Batman, he’s lying low in hiding, waiting for the right moment to rise from the crematory ashes because he believes his central nemesis is a bona fide member of MI6.
Betrayal is always dramatic, especially if it comes from within your inner circle. It’s in this confusing moment of vulnerability that most heroes face their biggest demons, and it’s where Skyfall digs deep as we visit the land of Bond’s birth.
Taking another page from Christopher Nolan’s elegant rebirth of Batman, Sam Mendes shows us the old family mansion where the baby Bond grew up before his parents died in an untimely accident.
Beneath the dust covers and behind the hidden doors of the musty house, the spectral form of the human Bond slips across the frame, beckoning us to come just a little bit closer.
This is where the Oscar- winning Mendes ( American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) is probably most comfortable because it’s where the drama gets knee- deep and the symbolism grows downright Freudian.
We all know Bond is a true patriot who long ago pledged his love to Britannia, but this movie suggests his selfless love of country could be the result of childhood trauma. After all, he’s deeply connected to M in an almost boyish way.
He calls her “ma’am,” but thanks to an English affectation no doubt cultivated by Mendes, it really sounds like “mum” — and if you can wrap your head around the notion of Bond and M as a bloody mother- and- son combo, Craig and his co- star Javier Bardem get to riff on everything from James Cagney in White Heat to Anthony Perkins in Psycho.
The two brawny males are almost having too much fun with the subtext to sell us on the skin- tingling suspense. Bardem tries to ramp up the threat with homosexual overtones, but it feels too campy to make us feel any edge. Truth be told, Bardem is fun for the film, but he’s not all that scary. The same could be said for the whole crazy endeavour: It’s highly entertaining and fun to watch, but for all the pricks of emotional ambition, it never punctures the skin to make us bleed.
Skyfall pays direct homage to the work of previous Bonds via props and plot, ensuring any true 007 fan will feel a tickle from every Aston Martin reference. And for the most part, Skyfall tickles more than it moves — which is its only true disappointment: This is a fun one- night stand, not a committed connection. But if you’re going to hop into the cinematic sack with any pistol- packing protagonist, Bond is the only one who can guarantee a repeat performance — in addition to a spectacular climax.