Monday, November 19, 2012

Skyfall

Although gadgetry, ego, and explosions are Bond staples, Skyfall was refreshingly scant on all but the latter. Mendes paid exceptional attention to detail, imbued subtlety in the too-often one line zinging hero, and allowed viewers to peel back layers of 007 where his predecessors feared merely scratching the surface.

With the exception of high stakes poker in Casino Royale, this was a much more cerebral Bond flick than its predecessors, one that kept us on edge as it explored the inner workings of both the villain and the resurrected.

Bardem embodied a virulent, violent, and crazed psychopath with a cool exterior. Motivated entirely by revenge, and possessing all the skills of a double zero agent, Silva was like an atomic bomb with a faulty detonation switch. His bleached blonde hair and overly calm demeanor were the only indicators to his underlying lunacy. The brilliance in his character was that we expected him to explode at any moment, to be overcome by his emotion as Bond so often does. But we never quite get to see Silva angry or flustered, even when his plans do not yield the expected results. As bumpy as the ride gets, the bomb never goes off; its destructive potential well known, even secretly desired.

Another refreshing element to Skyfall is that the plot does not revolve around world domination, rogue military generals hellbent on genocide, or giant freaking lazers. In fact, with the exception of a perfectly timed derailed subway train being summoned by Silva and almost crushing 007, this film appeared quite realistic. Skyfall's action sequences were plausible and plot driven, not bombastic and random.

Daniel Craig's grittier and less charismatic archetype of the historically and egregiously over-exaggerated spy is a welcome repast, and Mendes ingeniously lets audiences feast on more than merely car chases, shoot outs, and chiseled physiques. This bond is wounded, humbled and even doubts himself for a time. We learn that 007 is human after all, and as Q put it, "less of a random killing machine, more of a personal statement."


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