I'm calling it now: The Daniel Craig Bond era has to end. Period. Full stop. End of discussion.
I liked Pierce Brosnan just fine and while Tomorrow Never Dies was a the best of his quartet of outings, Die Another Day was OK, too. While my girlfriend can't stop fixating on Daniel Craig's ears, I just think he should be remaking Steve McQueen's catalog. I don't dislike Craig, I don't like him as Bond and while Casino Royale (with cheese!) was adequate, Quantum of Solace was an empty nothing that I can't remember a thing about. (The only reason I have it in my library is because my Bond 50 box set included it.)
Which brings us to Skyfall, the most-successful financially, but frankly worst Bond movie I can recall offhand and I'm including Moonraker and The World Is Not Enough with the ignoble tag team of a villain who's only meaningful trait is that he can't feel pain and Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in shorts. I don't claim to be a Bond connoisseur but man does Skyfall seem to utterly fail at being a Bond movie at all.
After a raucous pre-credit sequence which ends with the loss of a sensitive hard drive which was in an Istanbul hotel room for some reason, Bond is presumed dead. M (Judi Dench) is typing up Bond's obit and being eased toward retirement by the government to be replaced by Ralph Fiennes who has a name that starts with an M, so he's an obvious pick. Meanwhile, Bond is hiding out in some tropical paradise, shagging the local wahinis and participating in a ridiculous drinking game involving a live scorpion.
When a mysterious hacker blows up the MI-6 office, killing several agents, it spurs Bond to get back into the game. Unfortunately, he's out of shape and more like 003-1/2 than 007, but M puts him in the game anyway. And this is the first of many problems Skyfall has by making the villain time and age and progress making dinosaurs like Bond and M obsolete. Since a metaphysical concept isn't much of an adversary, a very campy and flamboyant (get the inference?) Javier Bardem is the supposed bad guy, Silva, who has the hard drive and a vendetta against M.
Unfortunately, his beef is similar to what happened to Bond himself during the credits of The World Is Not Enough and Bond didn't wage war on his employers over it. Frankly, it's pathetic. We've gone from Bond villains who want to rule the world to a disgruntled employee who should've filed a workplace grievance with his union rep. I'm not kidding; it's that lame.
I'm not a Bond aficionado though I do have every movie on DVD and Blu-ray (it doesn't mean I've watched them), but there are several things that typify a James Bond movie: him shagging numerous beauties (whoops, AIDS stopped that in the Eighties); nifty and impossible gadgets like invisible cars and pens that turn into guns; a super-cool villain with a diabolical scheme; and Bond being a nearly infallible and indestructible. All these things are missing for the most part in Skyfall; sorry, a pistol with a grip coded so only Bond can shoot it isn't impressive. (What's next, requiring upper and lower-case letters, a number and a special character on his MI-6 login password?) While the producers said they wanted a more realistic Bond when they tossed Brosnan for Craig, they seem to be unaware of what the audience wants from a Bond flick.
While the plot is weak, the action sequences are uniformly above-average and the cinematography by ten-time Oscar-loser Roger Deakins is simply lovely. People I know who aren't hardcore cinephiles remarked about how beautiful Skyfall is, but Deakins went home empty-handed again.While Life of Pi was a beautiful film, most of its look came from special effects and post-production wizardry and its victory over Skyfall was a bad call on the part of the Academy. Better luck next time, Roger.
Score: 4/10. Rent the Blu-ray.