SkyfallReleased on November 10, 2012 1 comment
Many have looked silly over the years, predicting the sure-to-come death of James Bond and the end of the 007 run. With some 5 reboots and millions of gadgets to its credit, the franchise remains the most successful in the history of cinema, the greatest of all movie escapes.
This is not to suggest that MI6’s most famous orphan doesn’t need an enema every 10 years. Pierce Brosnan’s last turn behind the wheel was 2002’s “Die Another Day.” It might be the best of his list, but that isn’t saying much. With weather-fouling satellites, an overcompensating and sneering bad guy, not to mention invisible cars, the preposterous meter was pushed so far it ran out of mercury. Brosnan tried to replicate the dark good-looks and double entendres of his hero Sean Connery, who remains the only Bond for many purists. (Most of them old.) We’ll never know how good Pierce might have been as the stories were so pathetic, and the women so average, the latter being sacrilege 101 in our playbook. (Famke Janssen and Rosamund Pike are obvious exceptions.)
Sensing audience apathy the Family Broccoli, who’ve been producing Bond James Bond since 1962’s “Doctor No,” made a bold, brilliant, and no too popular choice by handing the Aston keys to the rough-hewn Daniel Craig. The resulting howls could be heard across several time zones, though the only real issue the fogie relics could articulate was they didn’t like Craig’s blond hair. True enough, Ian Fleming’s famous series rendered his Agent as follicly dark.
Well, guess who had the last laugh?
Craig’s initial offering, “Casino Royale,” (Also Fleming’s first 007 book,) was not only the best Bond film in decades, it just might have been the best ever, though Connery’s “Dr. No,” “Thunderball,” “From Russia With Love,” and of course “Goldfinger,” are all superb and well deserving of iconic status.
(We don’t acknowledge the atrocious Roger Moore years, when Bond split with Savile Row in favor of bell bottoms and Members Only.)
There are two major differences between the Connery legend and Craig. In physical terms, Connery would emerge from huge battles with an oil smudge, while Craig gets as well as he gives, bleeding like boxer who’s just gone 15 with Ernie Shavers. Craig also shuns the trickery and cutesy lines, replacing them with a vulnerability that would have been taboo in the early films. Connery is every bit the Mad Men Ideal of an early 60’s action hero, with Craig much closer to the rugged and brutal force Fleming had in mind penning those famous novels. He breathes a ruthlessness into 007 that’s been missing for years, but also a weariness that can never be diminished, no matter how many times he saves the world.
Still, the last time we saw Danny Boy’s Bond, in 2008’s “Quantum Of Solace,” we were left unsatisfied. The action was well-mapped and intense but far too over the top, a mistake Casino never made. And that might have been the problem. Following such a strong film, Quantum had no real chance to stand on its own. Though it still made fanny-loads of cash and it’s doubtful that anyone on the production team could have cared less about its inferiority.
“Skyfall,” is number three for Craig and might well be his last. The time commitment and physical wear have taken their toll. Craig vaulted on the scene with 2004’s “Layer Cake,” the best movie of the last 15 years. He appeared not as a muscular, MMA-induced ass-kicker, but instead a shorter, leaner, and much slighter version of his menacing Bond, whose physique is as much a weapon as his Walther. Keeping that kind of shape for so many years is draining and almost impossible.
We like what we’ve seen in the clips, though the action looks to be looming perilously close to that ridiculous edge that doomed all the Brosnan flicks. Though we’re reasonably sure Craig will carry the day, with the help of his latest nemesis, Javier Bardem, whose talent seems limitless. (Though we must point out that Bardem’s bleached hair looks almost as silly as it did on Chris Walken back in 1983’s “View To A Kill.”)
And if those two talents aren’t enough, there’s a new stunner in the Bond Girl pantheon. French actress Berenice Marlohe will soon have the downloadable photo galleries crashing, and with good reason.
So once more into the breach dear James. Save us all yet again from the pretention of Oscar season, and the under-written, over-acted slop that bloats our holiday screens.
If 007 can’t take us away, then all hope is lost.