Skyfall (2012)

Posted by Ian Mantgani on 17th January, 2013

Legions flocked to Skyfall – it was such a hit that it accounted for almost 10% of all UK box office in 2012 – and anecdotally a refrain I often hear is, “I don’t like James Bond, but I liked Skyfall.” Why can’t we have a James Bond flick for people who like Bond? It didn’t hurt Pierce Brosnan’s grosses.

Daniel Craig is again sour-faced and humourless as 007, literally falling from the sky, and being accidentally shot by a fellow agent to boot, in the chase-on-a-train-on-a-canyon-bridge prologue that is the film’s high point. Bond from then hobbles around unfit for service, copying the injured hero trajectory of The Dark Knight Rises. The villain, Javier Bardem’s embittered former MI6 agent, is similarly framed like Christopher Nolan would The Joker or Bane, and the expansive but texturally digital and inert photography by Roger Deakins takes us one more step away from the cheeky old-world grit of Connery into the modern spy blockbuster’s Bond-Bourne-Batman-whatever homogeneity.

It’s almost of no note whatever to the final product that for once a brand name director, Sam Mendes, was trusted with the Bond franchise, except to say that Mendes’ most consistent flaw has been to take himself too seriously at the expense of drama, and Skyfall reeks of that, whether it’s his fault or the whole misconception of the enterprise. Because the literal tumble of the opening is not enough, the title refers to the ‘Skyfall’ estate – Bond’s childhood home, the stage for the final battle. Not content with taking his sex appeal or wit, this Bond film has to explain the back story, negating Bond’s mystique as well as the regenerative theory that ‘James Bond’ is just a fake name given to successive replacement agents. I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen.