Tuesday 30 October 2012

RFT Film Reviews: Skyfall

Overall Score: 4.2/5.0

Review by Reesh - Follow me on Twitter! I won't bite! Well, maybe a little - @MrReesh

Like any non-Bonder, when I first heard of the movie Skyfall I instantly thought “ENH? A FILM ABOUT RAIN?” but despite the weather right now being rather... skyfally in that sense, Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s third (of an alleged five as I hear) Bond film is an impressive action blockbuster with a healthy dose of that slick “wanna see me shoot some bad guys in Armani?” Bond attitude that has come to be a staple of the franchise, but yet not so much that it becomes annoying.

Epic guerilla advertising!
After a sufficiently dramatic and action packed opening scene, the film seamlessly fades into what I can best describe as the colourful-shape-filled-thingamajig opening credits sequence, much like those found in the last two films. Adele’s voice takes centre stage with her song Skyfall, though personally I did not like the song as much as Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name used in Casino Royale. When we return we are greeted by a jaded M, whose past successes have now been overshadowed of late by alleged poor decision making and proclamations that she is now unfit for office. What follows is a somewhat convoluted yet easy to follow story (even if you haven’t seen much Bond before) that goes heavy on the action, strong on the coolness and surprisingly light on the romanticism. It maintains a firm grip on interest from start to its climactic and emotional finish with help from the often EPIC fighting set-pieces, and dialogue which is largely interesting and clichéless – oh, and the occasional wise-guy Bond joke.

The film is clearly conscious that this, the 23rd Bond film, marks the 50th anniversary of Bond movies, and therefore has a healthy amount of previous Bond references, each of which give you a small chuckle when some long dormant part of your brain that remembers the reference comes to life with it. I felt so amazingly clever when I caught the Goldeneye reference, and even more of a genius when I spotted the Casino Royale one – admittedly it may have been coincidental, but I found it damn it, I found it.

Acting-wise Daniel Craig’s third Bond is... Bond, as helpful as that sentence may sound; he is a cool, slick, rough edged man of excellence whose allure for the ladies can only be matched by his skill in his profession – and he is very freakin’ skilled. Despite this you can’t help but feel as though he has become damaged as a person, some deep pain within him that causes him to hate his job, yet feel strangely drawn to it. He deals with that pain with a preferably shaken cocktail of women, alcohol, and the occasional kill, which makes for an entertaining character even if he can appear rather bland at times when mixing with other stern characters in the film.

He looks scarier WITH a nose in my opinion
Other performances range from average to amazing, with Dame Judi Dench again playing a marvellous M, who fits so naturally into the role after so long it’s hard to remember she’s acting. The real star of the movie though was Javier Bardem who put on an absolutely spectacular performance as the film’s antagonist, whose jubilant portrayal of a vengeful and hateful enemy gave him an strangely inviting allure, despite an air of psychosis. His character’s interactions with Bond were amongst the most interesting exchanges in the movie, as each brought out the best of each other. Now having only seen a few Bond films myself, I don’t know many villains in the franchise. However out of all Bond villains I know, I find him, and his wondrous golden locks, the most memorable, with aspects of his performance as such a vibrantly colourful villain in an otherwise serious world drawing similarities to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Additionally Ralph Fiennes (a.k.a. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named) provides a great performance in Gareth Mallory, head of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who felt respectable in his aims yet sufficiently annoying to make your think “urgh, it’s Mallory” every time he came on screen. However Naomie Harris is surprisingly dull here; I mean she’s alright, and there are moments where we get a good bit of life from her, but ultimately it’s not enough and she appears to fade into the grey of the Bond world upon which Bardem sits with a rainbow crown and purple unicorn.

Locations were used marvellously throughout the movie, with places including a busy market in Turkey, a ridiculously fancy casino in Shanghai and of course – London. As an incredibly proud Londoner, one thing I really loved about the film was its use of prominent London locations and tube stations, it really gave the film an edge of realism for me, as though if I had bothered to turn up for a lecture at uni one morning I would have been in the background. They even slide down an escalator! Do you know how long I’ve wanted to do that??? Now I know all I’ve gotta do is get a job with the MI6, ascend the ranks and participate in two movies worth of fights and stuff - simple enough. Of course those overseas or not experienced in Central London’s geography won’t get the same effect, though all of the locations are used well enough for you to still get a sense of atmosphere, allowing you to get comfortably lost in the experience.

Brooms typically make terrible marksmen
However there are points where things just seem to go too well for Bond, to the point where you look at the film and think “James, that wouldn’t happen” or “James, if you tried that in real life you’d either be dead or incredibly dead”. There was even a point where Bond pulls off a kill I’m pretty sure would be physically impossible, assuming that we share the same planet as Bond if not the same dimension. Additionally the film has the occasional outbreak of movie-shooting, where people appear to miss very, very easy shots on significant characters, despite them not aiming like a blind wombat with broomsticks for arms earlier in the film. While it’s clear the character simply cannot die at this point, it would have been better to avoid using such a frustratingly obvious tactic to allow him to escape.

Skyfall is pretty much what you expect from a modern Bond film, but done really well. Some of the action sequences are actually amazing, while Bardem and Dench’s performance could very much net the franchise’s first Oscar for acting. And I’m saying this even though wouldn’t even say that I’m a Bond fan as such – but I still highly enjoyed it, and highly recommend giving this one a watch even if hasn’t crossed your mind to before. Now here I would insert a joke about the film being shaken and not stirred or something clever like that, but it’s like 5am as I’m writing this so I feel to just write something random like “potato”. However I’ll leave you with a video of Coke Zero’s Skyfall ad campaign, which has to be one of the greatest I’ve ever seen – enjoy.

Skyfall Official Teaser trailer (The full official trailer is available on SonyPictures' channel, though to me it gives away a bit too much):

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