After James Bond was rebooted in Casino Royale and the slight detour via the dreadful Quantum of Solace (QOS), Daniel Craig’s era of Bond has spent a lot of time with training wheels on. Skyfall has Bond still learning the ropes and leaning on 50 years of nostalgic gimmicks for appeal, but it could be the final step in a prolonged road to the first great Craig Bond flick. MI6 is under attack and M (Judy Dench) is the target. Bond (Craig) is dispatched to hunt down the threat.
Director Sam Mendes kicks things off with an over-the-top chase sequence that hints of Bond finally finding his feet in 2012 while Mendes displays skills for crafting action sequences. As Bond uses earth moving machinery while on board a moving train to cut a hole in a train carriage, and jump onto it while fixing his suit, it feels like Bond is back.
After the traditional silhouetted naked ladies dancing to the tones of Adele it becomes clear that Bond is still in a rebuilding phase as almost rebooting the character again as to erase QOS from the mind. A cyber threat one ‘Facebook’ reference away from trying too hard to - make Bond matter to a tech savvy audience with the keyboard trumping the way of the gun.
An intriguing villain in the form of Javier Bardem skulks over the plot like a phantom but is never fully utilised when in action. Bardem’s manikin like appearance is a false projection of perfection that hides a scared backstory which is where the character shines briefly.
Craig’s Bond is a dull, advertising meat sack. The franchise has always been plagued by product placement but when he’s slowly pulling back on a specific brand of beer or randomly putting on designer sunglasses while being held hostage it’s clear that Craig’s performance as a walking billboard is as good as it gets. An attempt is made to plunge into Bond’s past to give the character depth but it’s a futile attempt to ground a character who is a shallow womanising embodiment of the male bravado. The relief is that Ben Whishaw brings personality to franchise favourite, Q and Naomie Harris is flirtatious and dangerous as a minor sidekick.
Mendes is a steady hand with the camera in an age where most spy themed films look like they were shot in the middle of an earthquake. Instead of forging ahead with something new, the film relies on gags and references to previous Bond films with familiar cars, gadgets and one liners that proves it’s only as good as your fondness of the franchise will allow.
Skyfall is thankfully an end of the beginning of Craig’s Bond. There are certainly moments that farewell the past to set the stage for Craig to finally fill the boots of the character after playing in the kiddie pool for three films. It seems the wait is over, well, until Bond 24 is released.
[rating=2] and a half stars
Cameron Williams - follow Cam on Twitter here: @popcornjunkies
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: Neil Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan
Starring: Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Albert Finney