Some films have that special something, and some films seem like they stepped in something. Allow me to help you know the difference, and maybe find you something good to watch.
This is the third time playing James Bond for Daniel Craig, and though I still (if pressed) would rank it below his first (CASINO ROYALE), it isn’t far below, and it’s certainly much better than the not-horrible-but-certainly-mediocre follow-up QUANTUM OF SOLACE.
The action is thrilling, the acting is solid, and the Bond-villain is a worthy adversary.
I’m not going to get into plot at all, or character details, who does what and why. You’ll find all that out when you watch this, which you should. I’ll just say Javier Bardem (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007) is a chilling and formidable nemesis, and if you’ve seen him in anything else, you know that he nothing if not intense.
Bond films have a long history (this is #23 in the strict canon) filled with Martini-tradition, lavishly equipped cars, and a litany of other narrative conventions that the purists demand are to be repeated over and over in each new film. This one, I think, does a fine job of keeping a few of those trappings, giving a brief nod towards others, and turning some completely on their heads.
I’ve come to expect good things from director Sam Mendes, and I wasn’t at all disappointed with this. He’s probably most known for his film AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999) with Kevin Spacey, but I also really liked ROAD TO PERDITION (2002) (which also had Daniel Craig in it), and AWAY WE GO (2009). All four of these films are vastly different in tone, content, and intention, and yet he doesn’t feel shoe-horned into any of these projects.
Some directors have too much “style” to do anything other than “their-kind-of-movie”. Mendes is proving himself to be much better than that.
Is this a perfect Bond film (whatever that means)? No. There are some WTF moments that take you out of the film, some character-behavior that doesn’t quite jibe right, and there are some pacing issues here and there.
Also, this is a pretty long film, and at 2 and a half hours it’s actually the second longest of the Bond series (a minute behind CASINO ROYALE) ever. So sure, you start to feel the minutes pile up, but it isn’t too bad. Really, between the twists and turns, the fighting, the chasing, the sexy ladies, and the international intrigue, time goes by just fine.
This is a quality addition to the Bond universe. It looks great, it sounds good, and it feels right. SKYFALL is proof that the Bond franchise is still capable of shaking things up without falling to pieces.