24 November 2012


The latest James Bond outing, Skyfall, delivers the goods.

The action is just right: gripping, entertaining, and cheerfully implausible without crossing the line into cartoonishness. It's also a great-looking movie with luscious photography, spectacular locations, and well-designed sets. Indeed, the production design is one of the quiet victories of the film, including star turns by a desk tchotchke, a couple of sexy dresses, some rack-mounted servers, and a car which got my audience's biggest round of applause. (So I'm a design nerd. I know it.) The story is smart enough, and the dialogue smarter still.

Best of all, it proves my rule that You Have To Get Good Actors For The Genre Stuff. Daniel Craig continues to impress with a mix of crafty line readings, physical acting, and cinegenic magnetism that completely sells the absurdity of James Bond and makes him feel as real as he could. The movie finally gives Judi Dench a lot to work with as M. Javier Bardem delivers a star turn as a deliciously creepy villain. The supporting cast is also terrific: Ralph Fiennes seeming to enjoy acting more than ever now that he's not absurdly handsome, Ben Whishaw's as a young computer geek Q managing not to read like the usual Hollywood geek minstrelsy, Naomie Harris as sly as she is lovely, and Albert Finney standing in for another actor (you'll know who) and doing so well with it that I wound up glad they couldn't get that other guy.

As usual, Lance Mannion has a thoughtful review/commentary that I recommend. He observes that the movie obviously comes from a great love not only of James Bond but of movies.

Mendes even stakes his claim that it’s as good a movie as or at least deserves to be judged alongside highly regarded films of very different sorts by alluding to or quoting directly from: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (of course), The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, The Thomas Crown Affair (Pierce Brosnan Edition), Silence of the Lambs, No Country for Old Men, Rear Window, Blade Runner, Straw Dogs (I think), and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The reference to Harry Potter I thought I caught might just have been my fevered imagination at work.

But there are probably others I’ll pick up on when I see it again.

Indeed. I'm surprised that he missed a big wink toward The Prisoner in there.

It's not pretending to be a great movie but it's a very good one. Joe Bob says check it out.


Al said...

Actually, I'm not sure who Albert Finney was standing in for unless it is Brian Cox.

Jonathan Korman said...

I took Finney to be standing in for a prominent, aging Scottish actor with a long-standing association with the James Bond franchise.

Al said...


Well, he was probably busy slapping women or something.

Wombat said...

Reding "rack-mount servers" immediately following "sexy dresses" makes for some interesting mental images.

Anonymous said...

Darnit! I did miss the reference to The Prisoner! I'll be on the lookout for it though next time.