Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ten Statements About....SKYFALL (2012)

Yes, that is That Car...and this is That Bond...
"We are the last two rats. The question is do we eat each other....or eat everybody else."

1) Isn't it strange that we can see an out of focus man all the way down the hallway and instinctively know by the stance he takes that it's James Bond? While I'm still not decided on where I place Craig on the list of Bonds Through The Ages, you have to give him credit for creating a physicality for the character as distinctive as Connery's.

2) I love how, with the inclusion of one key item in the plot--an item that plays an essential role in the plot--director Sam Mendes gives us a way to work this film into continuity with the other ones, or to shore up the theory originally posited in the original, David Niven/Woody Allen/Peter Sellers starring version of Casino Royale.

3) Mendes, thank God, has chosen to buck the trends that previous film Quantum of Boredo--SOLACE! I Mean Solace! in its action sequences. The chase scenes, which are all innovative and fun in their way, eschews shakey cam, choosing instead to use unique color palettes and situations to make each one special....and indisputably Bondian.

4) While there may be some room for debate about whether Bond sleeps with the junior agent played by Naomie Harris (why she remains unnamed for the bulk of the film soon becomes apparent as the story develops), she's the first Bond Girl in a looooooooong time that I'd really just want to hang out with. She's loads of fun, very energetic and super-hot to boot.
I saw a super-villain drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's/
and his hair was....bizzare....

5) I am very glad that the franchise continues to acknowledge its connection to The Avengers with the inclusion of Ralph Finnes' Mallory...and I love how Mallory is set up to be that most awful of cliches for The Modern Action Film, the government dickwad, only for him to show a great deal more nuance than is originally thought. And it makes the transition that happens at the end all the more satisfying.

6) And even though we've got a really colorful villain in Javier Bardem's Silva, and a great Bondian plot that seems to channel at times both Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough...this film is, at its core, a film about the relationship between Bond and Judi Dench's M (who--in what I have to assume is another nod to The Avengers--is given the first name of Emma by Albert Finney's Kincaid). This film firmly establishes what has been hinted at in the two previous Craig entries--for Bond, M is a mother figure, and the person who guided him into full maturity as an agent....leading to these moments where Craig, Dench and Finney are standing together and look for all the world like a family unit.

7) And speaking of Javier Bardem--in this film, he gives us what we've been missing in this present cycle of Bond films....a truly maniacal, operatic villain who acts like he's in a Bond film. Everything about him, from his abandoned island hideout to his insane predilection for weird ass assaults (like, for example, trying to squash Bond under a subway, really) to his hinted-at homosexuality and sadism towards his female companion seems straight out of the Ian Fleming playbook. He's so good there was a moment I almost wished we could see him escape.

(And there's no indication whatsoever that he's related in any way to Quantum--thank God the Broccolis abandoned the idea of this film being the end of a trilogy)
Not only is Naoimie Harris one of the sexiest Bond Girl of the
Craig era...she's the most fun!

8) I realize it's tough to replace Desmond Llewelyn as Q, but Ben Whishaw does an admirable job by blazing his own path...and it helps that the script by Bond mainstays Neal Purvis and Robert Wade along with John Logan manage to make Q (along with Mallory and Harris' character) active participants in the adventure proper.

9) But what is perhaps the biggest trick Mendes and the writers manage to pull is in making the bulk of this film take place in the most unlikely city of all--namely, London proper. I don't think there's ever been a Bond film that has taken so much advantage of Bond's homebase as a backdrop, and uses its unique qualities to fuel exciting action set pieces.

10) This also may be the one film that dig in the most to Bond's returning to the Skyfall of the title, we get some real info on Bond's history, although I would have preferred it more if so much of that history didn't reek so much of being borrowed from Christopher Nolan's Batman films. excellent return to form for a franchise which was on shaky ground with the generic, American Action Movie Manque of Quantum of Boredo--SOLACE! I Mean Solace!. Fun from beginning to end, setting up the new direction for the next batch of films and never lagging for a second. Need I say...recommended?

For this outing I visited the AMC Fresh Meadows, which was part of a new pilot program for AMC that is trying to create a much homier atmosphere for the theater experience, complete with overstuff reclining seats (I wanted to bring mine home!), and exceptionally friendly staff. We managed to avoid most of the AMC Firstlook. Of the trailers, the most interesting was for Steve Soderburgh's thriller Side Effect, which starts out as a relational drama only to slide into Rooney Mara going bugfuck and killing people thanks to pharmaceuticals. None of the others really engaged me, not even the one for the long-delayed Red Dawn.

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