Bullseye Skyfall

I think Sam MendesSkyfall is one of three or four best James Bond films ever made, and easily the best one starring Daniel Craig. (Yes, better than Casino Royale.) It rids itself of some of the tired 007 cheese and starts afresh and has an actual theme (the old giving way to the new) and goes a little bit darker, especially in the final act. Actually a lot. I think it’s as good as From Russia With Love or Dr. No, and that means something coming from me.

And Javier Bardem is definitely the funniest and most flamboyant Bond villain since…I don’t know who. Chris Walken? And he doesn’t even show up until the film has been running for 65 minutes or so. And it has the best opening credits sequence since…I don’t know, Goldfinger? Thunderball?

But I have to leave for an early screening and haven’t time to get into it. Tomorrow. This has been one of those lazy, frazzled days in which I can’t seem to dig into anything or push out sentences that amount to anything at all. Here, at least, is my favorite review so far, written by Indiewire critic and 007 aficionado Bill Desowitz

“James Bond films have always been about looking forward and back at the same time, but never more so than in Skyfall, which is both a homecoming and a breakthrough for the 50th anniversary,” he begins. “In fact, it’s all about exploring the old and the new. That’s the central metaphor; it’s embedded in every ambiguous moment. It was worth the extra year taken to craft the script, do the prep, and hone every delicious detail into an organic whole.

“Of course, it helps to have Javier Bardem as a flamboyant baddie with a personal grudge that’s right up there with Dr. No and Goldfinger, or cinematographer Roger Deakins providing such visual elegance. It’s not just a matter of making Bond more relevant. [Director] Sam Mendes has deconstructed Bond so well with screenwriter John Logan in order to elevate him dramatically.

“You have to know the rules before you can break them. Or in this case, transcend them. As a result, Mendes has not only made a great Bond movie but also a great movie. Period. Forget Bourne. Bond is now as thematically rich as The Dark Knight.”

38 thoughts on “Bullseye Skyfall

  1. Thunder Redux on said:

    The Dark Knight? Ugh, gimme a fucking break.

    Fuck it, just got Living Daylights on Blu for 10 bucks, I’m gonna go cleanse my palette with a little Dalton on D’Abo action.

  2. Very excited. Although I find it lamentable that Dark Knight is offered up as the epitome of thematic richness, but c’est la vie.

  3. Walken’s “View to a Kill” turn is the first time I ever heard anyone pronounce “schedule” as “shedule.”

    Speaking of vocal tics, no less a cinematic authority than Brad Bird just tweeted this:

    Brad Bird ‏@BradBirdA113

    Taken aback by Daniel Day Lewis’s high-ish (historically accurate) Lincoln voice? Relax. You get used to it fast. It’s a GREAT performance.

  4. “He always knew when his body or his mind had had enough and he always acted on the knowledge. This helped him to avoid staleness and the sensual bluntness that breeds mistakes.”

    Ian Fleming or Jeff Wells?

  5. He not only played a Bond villain, he played him on an episode of SNL (having unfortunate union problems in his volcano lair, and forced to show artist renderings of how Bond would theoretically be consumed by a shark).

  6. Jeff,

    On iPad(and iPhone I think) SNL sketch below stars forcefully every time your site is visited. It is very annoying, please do something. Thanks

  7. Very glad to hear this, Jeff. Also, just caught Prometheus on Blu-Ray – you were correct on that one as well. Outside of a Friday the 13th movie, I can’t remember such a glaring cinematic example of characters making so many dopey decisions in order to drive the plot. Sad.

  8. Oh, I don’t know…I remember an ’80s flick called Captain EO that was pretty fucking dopey. Prometheus on BD is a crisp and warm viewing experience, and watching it reaffirms my stance as one of the finest major releases of the year.

    Fuck all the nerdy critics that say the plot is “ruined” due to the decisions of the main characters because: a) I don’t believe there’s any official protocol for fighting huge vaginal squids, or giant towering space Cenobites, and b) the first film — not to mention the sequels — had countless examples of passengers doing “dumbass” things to serve the story beats of someone biting the dust every 15-20 minutes (just happens to be an unavoidable cinematic trope when you’re remaking 10 Little Indians).

    “Did not know Walken did Bond.”

    Jesus, who let this asshole in here? Makes me want to start a reverse Freaks chant.

    Skyfall looks awesome. I can’t remember ever looking more forward to a Bond movie. Maaaybeee Goldeneye, but even that was more about the franchise returning from a 5-6 year hiatus to me than it was about the pure anticipation of a great entry in the series (and I think Goldeneye — while very good — has been helped considerably to its “modern classic” status by those who became familiar with the story and characters inside and out by growing up playing the legendary video game for hours on end in dorms or the basement of their parent’s house).

    Looks like Mendes was a great hire here, as well as Bardem and Deakins. Here’s something to consider about the former, though: was he actually at the stage of his career where he needed Bond more than Bond needed him? I just peeked at his IMDb page and I still haven’t seen Away We Go (and I had actually totally forgotten that it even existed until about a minute ago). That can’t be good.

  9. Jeff,

    Since you were having trouble coming up with entries (but who knows — maybe that was just a “yesterday” thing), my last thought above probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to start a new, larger-scoped interactive thread: which movies by well-known or highly-respected auteurs have you just never gotten around to watching in their entirety?

    I’m talking more about movies that you lived through, I guess — as opposed to going back and doing “homework” on Lang or Renoir or Chaplin or maybe even Godard (everyone has blind spots on stuff like this). I’m talking more about missing a flick when it’s released in theaters, making a mental note to catch up with it a couple months later, but — for whatever reason — never having the motivation to follow though (it’s way too late for me to come up with any sort of complete list of titles on this topic, but for whatever reason Kar Wai’s 2046 springs immediately to mind).

  10. Love Kaned’s 8 paragraph essays especially when they’re punctuated with a shot at the Deezer.

    I missed a lot of big-ass trilogy-type flicks because my parents weren’t gonna go, I didn’t have a ride when I was a kid, and most of my friends growing up didn’t go to the movies much. And when I could afford Netflix, I was more prone to checking out smaller-scale movies better suited for whatever minuscule TV or laptop I was watching them on. So no Lord of the Rings, X-Men, or The Matrix. I only just caught up with Bourne in time for the Renner.

  11. “the first film — not to mention the sequels — had countless examples of passengers doing “dumbass” things to serve the story beats of someone biting the dust every 15-20 minutes ”

    Wrong.

    Kane: Who can expect something leaping out of an egg onto your face and burning through with acid?

    Brett: Wandering off isn’t a big deal when they thought they were searching for a chestburster not a 9 foot tall monster.

    Dallas: Nothing dumb about the air vent deal, but Skerrit plays it perfectly, he’s smart enough to be terrified as shit.

    Parker and Lambert: they needed the oxygen, they got ambushed, they died.

    Ripley: she didn’t die, but she went back for the cat.

    Okay, you got me there ;-)

  12. Did coming up under Pierce not save the Bond series for ALL of us? Not that the last three were any good really (though I have a soft sport for Jonathan Pryce as Rupert Murdoch, and Vincent Schiavelli in Tomorrow Never Dies), but GoldenEye was such a huge thing for all of us I thought, mainly just because of the game.

  13. Goldeneye is better than Casino Royale, which while stylish was too narratively dominated by the card game, and Quantum of Solace, while not great, was fine and has been very unfairly maligned. Die Another Day was a cinematic abortion of unimaginable proportions.

  14. DIE ANOTHER DAY=Underrated. It ain’t good, but I’d watch it a hundred times before I sat through DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER or LICENSE TO KILL again.

  15. I have called bullshit on Brosnan as Bond from the begining. You know why? Cause to me he’ll always be REMINGTON STEELE. You can’t go from playing 80′s NBC TV Bond to actual movie Bond. Just doesn’t fly with me.

    Goldeneye was killer on the N64 though.

  16. @RK:

    Glad you are so easily amused – no wonder Hollywood finds it so profitable to turn out dreck. There are too many dumb decisions and lame plot points in Prometheus to let slide (Spoilers follow):

    No weapons allowed because it’s a scientific expedition? Check.

    Trained PhD scientist tears off his helmet in an alien environment with who knows what kind of infectious organisms lurking about? Check.

    Another scientist storms off because his expertise is supposedly invalid? And is allowed to do so in a potentially hostile environment? Check.

    Said scientist and companion get lost, despite presence of laser mapping spheres (that perhaps should have been used to map the way out first)? Check.

    Messing with an unknown alien organism like it was part of a petting zoo? Check.

    I could go on, but that was enough to turn me off. Bottom line, the script was so weak that A-list stars and cool effects couldn’t save it. I’d rather watch Captain EO than sit through Prometheus again.

  17. “Glad you are so easily amused – no wonder Hollywood finds it so profitable to turn out dreck.”

    Kaned isn’t easily amused – he just has better taste than you.

  18. Prometheus was a disaster of epic proportions. For all the reasons stated and more. The film was inert, did nothing, said nothing, had nothing.

  19. @TE2:

    There are two kinds of “dumb decisions” characters can make in a movie. The first is a “reasonable” dumb decision that is justified by the character’s weaknesses, foibles, lack of information, and stress. A good script will reasonably establish these points and make this work, as in “Alien”.

    The second is a dumb decision that can’t be justified because it goes against everything that the character stands for and/or contradicts the information they have, dismisses their expertise, and flies against plain common sense (and in the last case, supporting characters should intervene to stop them, especially when their lives are on the line). A bad script like “Prometheus” is rife with this crap.

    The failure on both your parts to discern this crucial distinction while relying on insults forces me to put you in the category of the bloated windbag pseudo-intellectual character in “The Paper Chase” who called everyone a pimp but was ultimately proven to be a failure. Good luck with that destiny!

  20. Give Roger Deakins a fucking Academy Award already! If there is any proof that the Oscars are worthless, it’s the fact that this man does not have a statue yet.

  21. “Fuck all the nerdy critics that say the plot is “ruined” due to the decisions of the main characters”

    How stupid. Screw the people who thinks it sucks *just because* no one ever does anything that makes a fucking lick of sense!

    Its always amusing to see what attacks people come up with when they love a bad movie.

  22. Case in point: “Kaned isn’t easily amused – he just has better taste than you.”

    Now willfully overlooking bad writing is…. good taste. Ah, fantasy-land.

  23. The failure on both your parts to discern this crucial distinction while relying on insults forces me to put you in the category of the bloated windbag pseudo-intellectual character in “The Paper Chase” who called everyone a pimp but was ultimately proven to be a failure. Good luck with that destiny!
    Plumber In Skipton | horloge merken

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