I know it’s just a film. I know it shouldn’t bother me. But the thing is I’ve been a James Bond fan since I was 6 years old so this genuinely matters.
People have a favourite Bond actor. Well to me it’s much more about the film than the person portraying the character. For example my favourite Connery film is Goldfinger, my favourite Moore film is Live and Let Die, my favourite Brosnan film is Tomorrow Never Dies and my favourite Dalton film is Licence To Kill. This last film was the closest in tone and story to Fleming’s books – even though it had elements of several books in it. I obviously haven’t mentioned my favourite Lazenby film, it’s just a shame he couldn’t have made another. It’s also a shame that Connery didn’t actually star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as the emotion at the end would have been incredible.
Daniel Craig was fantastic in Casino Royale. It gave life back into a character which could easily have died out after the awful CGI shenanigans of Die Another Day. How I waited in anticipation for A Quantum of Solace. How disappointed was I to discover it was basically Kill Bill 2 – a continuation of a story which had really already finished.
So I awaited Skyfall with mixed emotions. It couldn’t be as bad as Quantum, could it? When will it be set? In Casino Royale we saw Bond achieving his 007 prefix. So will it continue from there ie were all the adventures we had seen yet to come and will he in the future get married only to have his wife killed? Or will this all have happened in the past and he’s now moved on?
Well, in fact, it’s a mixture of both. SPOILER ALERT – he meets Moneypenny for the first time, yet he has the Aston Martin from Goldfinger.
But let’s put my pedantry to one side for a moment and concentrate on the film. I was hoping for the gun-barrel pre-titles but unfortunately they’re not ready to put that at the start yet.
The opening sequence was great and reminiscent of Casino Royale. I sat in the cinema smiling as Adele sang the theme (I don’t mind the song, although I could have done without the “name/number” lyric.)
And so the film continued and my smile slowly but surely faded.
I’m not going to review it scene by scene – although I’d like to – suffice to say the film is a hybrid of successful franchises. It has a copy of the Joker from The Dark Knight (mixed with Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs), it has a man on a beach trying to find himself from the Bourne films, it has a good vs evil final battle in darkness from Harry Potter (even with a Hagrid thrown in for good measure) and it has the computer hacking and moving Headquarters scenes from 24.
Whenever you see 3 screenwriter’s names, it rarely bodes well. And this script didn’t quite know what it wanted to be. The megalomaniac wanting revenge is a good staple, but the script didn’t do it justice. The monologues were so long that at times I felt I was watching a play. And not a good one.
Sam Mendes obviously loves the UK and following the Olympics, this is another PR coup for London. A pointless chase in the Underground is surely only there to bring visitors to the capital. And I’m not going to start on product placement as I’ll just get myself worked up.
Judi Dench, who played M so well in previous films, here is portrayed as quite pathetic. Her storyline is obvious from her first encounter with Ralph Fiennes’ character Mallory. She even recites a poem at one point. A POEM!!!! This isn’t Four Weddings and a Funeral!
Other characters all blend into the background. When the new young Q tells Bond that they don’t do ‘exploding pens’ anymore, you feel cheated.
And what of Bond himself? Well I can only assume his direction was constantly; “Can you be more moody and broody please Daniel?” The writers tried to throw in the odd asides and quips which were neither funny nor clever and were in stark contrast to the way the character was being portrayed.
Oh and this Bond film has a naughty swearword for the first time, just to keep the kids happy.
The final scene more or less sets up the franchise again, even though that’s what Casino Royale was supposed to have done.
I left the cinema feeling cheated. This was meant to be a James Bond film. They could have replaced the long dialogue scenes with more action, they could have replaced the darkness with more elements of fun, they could have…. they could have……. they could have made it better.