When news happens, text BAZ and your photos or videos to 80360. Or contact us by email and phone.
REVIEW: James Bond is back in Skyfall (12A)
FOR new Bond film Skyfall, released in the series’ 50th anniversary year, Barbara Broccoli and co have attempted to assure it’s the best by assembling a crack British team.
Not only has Adele come up with a triumphantly melancholic theme song, but its Oscar-nominated director Sam Mendes – born in Reading and responsible for films such as American Beauty and The Road to Perdition - is one of those beloved by thespians.
Appropriately enough, a lot of it has been filmed in London, including above and below ground, and the BBC’s key new anchor Hugh Edwards gets a precious few seconds of screen time.
A buzz cut Daniel Craig, who assumed complete authority over the role of James Bond in the stunning Casino Royale and the markedly less successful Quantum of Solace, is joined, among others, by Ralph Fiennes, a terrific Ben Whishaw as Q and Naomi Harris as Eve, a fellow agent whose on-the-job scrape with 007 is the long, impressive pre-credit sequence.
Another Daniel – Kleinman – has been responsible for the stunningly fluid titles, during which repeated images of skulls and graves join the usual girls and guns, and visually, this is one of the best looking films yet. Cinematographer Roger Deakins used a digital camera to create some of the most stunning vistas captured in the series, including breathaking views of the buildings of Shanghai and Macau. Obviously a few tourist boards have contributed to the budget, as well as the usual car and beer companies.
The plot’s MacGuffin is a list of the NATO agents embedded in terrorist organisations worldwide, which has been stolen by a computer terrorist with an MI5 history. This ‘anonymous’ pest is in the flesh rather more memorable - a demented camp, blond sadist (Javier Bardem, much scarier in No Country for Old Men) who has a grudge against/Oedipal issue with one person in particular.
M (Judi Dench) is in trouble with the PM because of the ensuing chaos, being forced to retire with full honours in two months, but she’s adamant that she’ll not take the easy route - “To hell with dignity - I'll leave when the job's done.” She and Bond share some great later banter in the Aston Martin DB5, resurrected in a crisis, and this is also the first instalment when the F word escapes hers, or anyone’s, lips.
Said list is later overlooked in favour of a few of the things the Austin Powers franchise exposed for the tropes they were: a ridiculously elaborate prison, relentless chase/tracking sequences, Rory ‘Basil Exposition’ Kinnear reeling off reams of back story, and absurd deaths (Komodo dragon, a nicely old-school scene).
Skyfall is being talked about as a Christopher Nolan version of Bond, and it is true that it seems to be trying for a very different tone – but failing to come up with anything definitive. Mendes may be skilled, but he’s not a director of this type of material, and seems to be struggling to give it cohesion.
Things that the public have rightly come to expect from Bond, particularly consistent thrills, and a solid core sexual relationship with a new female character we’ve grown to care about, are conspicuous by their absence, and it’s a shame that more is not made of the excellent Berenice Marlohe.
Let’s not forget that two of series’ highest regarded films, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale, give the girl’s story arc highest priority.
It will be interesting to see if this really is the type of Bond film which contemporary cinemagoers apparently want. Personally? Royale all the way.