Okay, I hate the Skyfall post I did last night because I hate talking vaguely about movies. I hate it. I hate saying shit like so-and-so gave a “great performance.” It says nothing, informs no one. I might as well be saying boring shit like “beautiful cinematography” and “sweeping score.” What am I, a film critic?
So, let’s get into some Skyfall spoilers, below. Note: Skyfall spoilers will contain a great many spoilers for Skyfall.
Opening Scene: Rooftop chase on motorcycles, really exciting. Though, kind of Bourne-ish. But, everything is kind of Bourne-ish these days. Also, motorcycles are so goddamn easy to steal, have you noticed? In any given city, there are just hundreds of idling motorcycles with no one sitting on them at any given time. Leads to a chase and fight on top of a train, also exciting. When Bond is shifting gears on the bulldozer thing, you also get a nice close up of his fancy watch. Product placement!
Theme Song & Opening Credits: All very nice and Bond-y. Adele has a great voice. Bond doesn’t shoot into camera — is that the first time that hasn’t started the opening credits in a Bond film? It’s because he’s unconscious in a waterfall, so we can forgive him. I think he does it at the end.
Computers Are Magic: Silva blows up MI6 using computer hacking. He used computers to turn on the gas, or something? Reminds me of the last Die Hard, where Timothy Olyphant sent gas over the internet to blow up Bruce Willis. I can’t do anything to my house over the internet. I can’t even tell my DVR to record something because I can never remember my Comcast password.
Bond Returns: After pretending to be dead, because he’s all butthurt that M would sacrifice him for a mission, Bond comes back to work. He hasn’t shaved in a while, which is how movies tell you someone is deeply distressed. I’ve enjoyed Daniel Craig as Bond, but I think he really knocks it out of the park in Skyfall, showing some real vulnerability. Connery was a great Bond, but did we ever get a sense of what was going on inside his head?
Q: Finally, Q appears in the movies, and instead of an old cranky dude who makes gadgets, he’s a computer geek. Makes sense. A joke is made about exploding pens. Pierce Brosnan, thou hast been zinged.
Bond in China: Okay, there’s a scene where he’s following a guy who is about to assassinate someone, and Bond needs to question him. He thoughtfully waits until the guy has completed the assassination to start punching him. That felt a little odd to me. Maybe punch him before he shoots someone in the brain? There’s a cool fight all in silhouette so they don’t have to edit the crap out of it to hide the stunt doubles. Then, Bond sits there taking his time going through the guy’s things, after the guy has plummeted to the street, which will alert people, who will then find the dead guards the assassin killed, and it just seems like, hey, Bond, you might want to get the hell out of that building immediately.
Bond at the Casino: During a fight in a casino, a goon gets eaten by a
gila monster komodo dragon. I thought this was kind of silly, but Kris pointed out that people in old Bond movies used to get eaten by sharks and piranha and other exotic animals all the time, so maybe it’s a callback. There are a lot of references to past Bond films and tropes in Skyfall. I do like that during the fight, Bond sees one of the komodo dragons and points to it in surprise. Like, Jesus! Do you see that giant komodo dragon, goon? It feels like a natural reaction to warn someone that they’re about to be eaten by a horrifying dinosaur, even if that someone is trying to kill you.
Bond Has Sex: Bond determines a sexy woman was sold into the sex trade as an adolescent, so of course he immediately fucks her. Seriously, Bond? You just talked to her about how she was repeatedly raped at age 12. Do you really have to bang her? Maybe don’t do that. Maybe make her some hot cocoa and get her into a nice comfortable fluffy robe and maybe, later, into therapy. Everything in this poor woman’s life is about guys trying to put dicks into her, and you’re not helping. And, having had sex with Bond, she’s going to die, obviously.
Bond Girls Always Die: Say! Here’s a thought. Can we maybe dispatch with this particular Bond tradition at this point? Is it maybe played out by now? You’ve ditched gadgets as old fashioned, so maybe it’s time to ditch the theme of women dying brutal deaths simply because they sleep with Bond? Maybe? I think it’s time.
Silva: Played by Javier Bardem, Silva is a proper Bond villain. He’s smart, weird, creepily playful, absolutely mesmerizing, and later we see he’s disfigured. Also: insane, though justifiably. He’s been through some shit after M let him get captured and tortured. Silva messes with Bond by pretending to come on to him, but Bond isn’t ruffled. I thought this was great and interesting. It felt like a real grown-up moment in series of silly fantasy action films. Silva even has his very own island hideout, like old Bond villains always used to. Only, in a great twist on the trope, Silva’s island is crumbling and shitty and abandoned. Instead of the usual opulent palace of money and pools and pillars, he’s just got a giant room full of computer servers. Amazing touch, I thought. Orbiting space stations, volcano fortresses, underwater bunkers: nah! All you need to run the world is a bunch of computers.
Silva Meant to be Captured: Silva is like Joker in The Dark Knight: being captured is all part of his elaborate plan. As with Joker, it’s a little hard to believe that everything goes down exactly as he figured it would. Even while in captivity, he is totally computering everything with hacking! He escapes, because now he wants to kill M in front of everyone, to show how bad she is at being spyboss while she’s being investigated for being a bad spyboss (she is, frankly, a pretty bad spyboss).
Ralph Fiennes: I pretty much sat around waiting for him to be evil, because that’s what happens when a new government boss shows up. But nope! He’s super nice. Good for him, and good for the movie. Very un-Bourne like! Bourne turned the American Spy vs. America’s Evil Enemies story into American Spy vs. America’s Evil Government story, which I’m tired of already. Glad Skyfall took a different route.
Skyfall: Bond’s old giant abandoned mansion in Scotland. Bond takes M there, figuring that of the 835 intricate plans Silva has, probably none of them involve Bond’s old house. I will say this: if I grew up in Skyfall, I would never have left. I would just stay there in that giant old stone house and spend my time staring out over the… I dunno, moors? Whatever. All the foggy hills. It’s damn beautiful. BEAUTIFUL CINEMATOGRAPHY. There.
Albert Finney: The caretaker of Skyfall is Albert Finney, which means we all sit there in the audience for the rest of the movie thinking loudly DO NOT HURT ALBERT FINNEY, MOVIE. SERIOUSLY. WE WOULD NOT BE COOL WITH THAT. WE ARE NOT JOKING.
Skyfall Showdown: Loved it! Silva and like 100 henchmen show up with an attack chopper, and there’s a great, exciting fight. I’m a sucker for a couple people hiding in a building while a bunch of goons try to kill them, like at the end of L.A. Confidential, so I loved this.
Note for Henchmen: Seriously, henchmen, don’t stand directly behind Bond holding a gun on him. He’s just going to grab your wrist and make you shoot things you don’t want to shoot, like other henchmen and the ice you’re standing on. Stop doing this!
The Ending: The ending is great. We’ve got Moneypenny, the hat rack, the MI6 office where Bond gets his mission briefings, and a new M… it’s like coming home, it’s the old movies made new again. And M is all, “Bond, are you ready to do some work?” And the audience is like “FUCKING YES!” and then M is like, “Well, too bad, you just failed two fucking missions! You let the hard drive get into terrorist hands and a bunch of agents died, and then you abducted M and took her to your shitty house and you let HER die. You are the WORST! Fired! But, then, I did get promoted to M, so… good work!”