I don’t often review films on the blog – mostly because I have three children and therefore almost never see films until they’re several years old and everyone else has already reviewed them. I also suspect that any film review I’m likely to write will be skewed towards the positive by the fact that I’ve actually left the house and enjoyed a storyline with Adult Themes. With this disclaimer in mind, I’d like to discuss just how much I thoroughly enjoyed Skyfall.
I’m really not a fan of shoot-em-up blockbusters, but I can be persuaded to sit through a Bond film thanks to the vicarious exploration of exotic locales they offer. The 50 year old super spy franchise is a visual feast if you’re hungry for colourful bazaars, snow-covered mountains and places where animals travel on public transport. Skyfall is no exception, with the action moving from high above Shanghai to down below London as the camera pans seductively around the city skylines.
I’m usually a pretty lazy Bond tourist, switching off from the fine details of spy versus spy and letting a cooler version of myself roam the cities, drive the cars and wear the clothes. Skyfall, though, had me genuinely engaged; barracking, even. It has much more psychological depth and far fewer girls whose names start with Pussy. Javier Bardem’s villainous Silver is quirky and complicated, whilst Judi Dench’s divine diva M displays strength and dignity to rival any of Bond’s heroic qualities. Both offer stellar performances that left me shaken and stirred in just the right measures.
There are girls, of course, but they come and go quickly this time. Bond doesn’t waste much energy on damsels in distress here; rather the damsels worthy of energy expenditure are his colleagues and mentors, who are pretty handy with a pistol themselves. Bardem is a deliciously psychotic adversary for Bond, but the hero is also fighting the ghosts of his own past, his awareness of his own mortaility, and the physical toll taken by his advancing years. Even a super fit super spy gets older, and there are many references made to field work being a ‘young man’s game’. In fact, even the office work is being overtaken by whipper snappers as the new Q comes in the form of a cocky young boffin.
But despite a few creaky joints and tender bullet wounds, Bond takes us on the anticipated wild ride with exploding buildings, geeky gadgetry and fast cars. The appearance of a classic Bond vehicle was met with an audible gasp from the men in our cinema; a touch of retro class symbolic of Bond’s journey into his own traumatic past. I have never read a Bond novel, but my husband (a fan) tells me there is more substance to the character in the texts. This is the first Bond film I’ve seen that reveals anything about his childhood and I really enjoyed the added substance that sub-plot introduced.
Daniel Craig as Bond oozes style. He has the cleanest shave I’ve ever seen and wears a suit just as well as he wears nothing at all. He lets us imagine a world in which metrosexual men are strong and honourable, even if they do swap women as often as they change bespoke briefcases. Importantly, in this film, he lets his guard down and even sheds a tear during a positively Shakespearean finale.
OK, so I may be going easy on Skyfall due to my extreme gratitude for a night out, but if you see only one mindless action movie this summer, make it this one! It’s not, in fact, as mindless as many other examples of the genre (I’m looking at you Cruise) and the cinematography and special effects are nothing short of spectacular.
Here’s Adele to give you a taster. Enjoy!
Ps. I really loved this song when it was first released until my sister told me the chorus crescendo sounded too much like a whiny child. I can’t get that out of my head now! What do you think?