Skyfall - The Bond Identity

                            "Skyfall", the latest in the fifty year old series of bond films, attempts to tie-down the  franchise’s cinematic legacy to a new type of James Bond - introspective, forward-looking. The new premise is identity politics, a move away from the familiar action plot to something we can associate with modernity. Sam Mendes, known for "American Beauty", "Road To Perdition", has stated that his template for this bond movie was Nolan's Batman films. So, Skyfall makes up for a dark and diverting film, but also feels too close to the themes of Gotham. 

                              The 23rd James Bond movie cannon conveys loss, mortality, and future-shock anxiety. All of these alterations are relevant and necessary. At the same time, the style, excitement, bombast, elegance and the sense of fun that has hallmarked the series are all being reduced to martyrs of Bond’s new cause. Sam Mendes like Nolan is very clear on how a modern James Bond should be, but is not very clear in what a James Bond movie should consist of. At the end, we have great performances, gorgeous cinematography but undernourished motivations and a cripplingly over-extended finale.

        The movie opens with its best action sequence, where Bond (Daniel Craig) and MI6 operative Eve (Naomie Harris) are hot on the trail of a target in Istanbul. The opening chase climaxes in a shoot-out atop trains speeding through the outskirts, a mission gone wrong results in the grave compromise of M's (Judi Dench) entire British intelligence organization. When the presumed dead Bond resurfaces with a chest wound and a shaky trigger finger, he finds that the agency has suffered a deadly attack and has gone underground.

                  All these worst events shatters M’s authority, to the point where her position is seriously challenged by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Meanwhile, Bond takes a group of tests that reveal him to be mentally and physically unfit for the assignment before him. All this abysmal result makes the subsequent mission more gripping than usual. All clues regarding the lead to a cyber-terrorist called Silva (Javier Bardem), a villainous genius with vengeful insanity.

                    Bond goes after the mystery guy behind it all, hampered by his own exhaustion. Silva doesn't  just want to hurt MI-6—he wants to hurt M, his old boss. The chase digs its way to Bond's own childhood and allows a deepening of dramatic color for the character. 

                 Daniel Craig's Bond is an unshaven, washed-up wreck who can’t shoot straight and shows signs of psychological trauma. This character sketch is managed to a great extent by Craig than any other Bond heroes. Unlike other 007's, here is a Bond who has something to prove, and who could be damaged goods, physically and even mentally. There’s always a compelling woundedness and soulfulness to Craig's Bond. The shrewdest piece of casting in this film is getting the enormously talented Javier Bardem to play Silva. He plays Silva with a blend of menace and pathos that’s equal parts Hannibal Lecter, Heath Ledger’s Joker. Silva is a typical Flemingesque villain – a loathe-some foreigner with a hidden and gruesome deformity. 

                  Judi Dench gives a outstanding performance as M, which draws out all of her acting strengths. Dench obtains the right balance between showing her fondness for 007 and being cold, detached, and even ruthless, when there’s a need for it, in crisis situations. Ben Whishaw fits perfectly as a skinny, bespectacled MI6 cyber guy who's known as...Q. The movie is peppered up by the small or cameo parts of Ralph Fiennes, Berenice Marlohe, Naomie Harris, and Albert Finney

                    Bardem as Silva makes his entrance from far away, a virtual dot on the horizon, giving a wiggly speech about what happens when rats fight each other. Gradually, his unsettling face comes into focus. That's one of the many visual coups from Cinematographer Roger Deakins and director Sam Mendes. Shot on digital, Deakins' visuals shows us the dark and lustrous beauty of London, Istanbul and Scotland. The script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan and the direction of Sam Mendes does well to ground the human elements of the film but the climax, which finds Bond holed up in his old Bond family estate on Scotland, feels over-stretched and the motivations, feeble.

                   Fifty years of Bond have not made people going to Bond flicks for the shock of the new. We are going for the comfort of familiarity, for the tropes and traditions – fine-tuned from time to time, of course, but never overturned. Now, the Bond in Skyfall represents wisdom and he could be termed as a anti-Bond Bond. Even fistfights are staged like dramas in Mendes' direction. The Bond in Skyfall gives the viewer the sense that there is a psychic toll to be paid when you kill 14 or 15 persons per movie -- much like Jason Bourne and Bruce Wayne.

                   Many people held out the hope that this was going to be the film that delivered on more than just promises. Skyfall is definitely worth a watch but it's also hard not to feel that it is something of a missed opportunity.


Skyfall - IMDb 


ராஜ் said...

Nice Review Arun...
This movie resembles TDK at times.. :):)

Raghav said...

Lovely review and analysis.

Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

Brilliant review Arun. I was sp disappointed with the movie. And having been fed too much of action in the last two Bond flicks, you're left longing for more :)

FolkTalesUrbanLegends said...

Great review. I loved the movie. Sam Mendes and the cast has done a great job, but the visceral thrill of the old bond movies is missing. Still worth a watch.

Sunil Deepak said...

Usually Bond movies bore me in spite of the great action scenes, but this time I liked the film! I thought that it is a huge improvement on usual Bond films! :)

Arun Kumar said...

@Raj, Thanks for the comment. Yeah, it resembled TDK in its template.

@Raghav, Thanks for the comment.

@Haricharan, Thank you. I was also a bit disappointed.

Arun Kumar said...

@sandeep, Thanks for the comment. Yeah the movie had a good feel but was not fully satisfying.

@Sunil, Thanks for the comment. Yeah definitely a huge improvement, but haven't fully accomplished its strengths.

Tanny said...

Very nicely written, keeping aside my expectation from the movie and disappointment, I really liked the way you have shadowed the failings in writing Analysis.

Shareef S M A said...

Good review as usual..
Skyfall is pretty good, with a terrific opening sequence.. Yes.. the climax could've been shortened.. other than that, I enjoyed it very much...

ArjunaUbacha said...

Lovely review. The producer fears the financial viability of this movie so much that they need to put in gay scenes? Sad to see a villain caressing bond.

Jayashree Srivatsan said...

That movie seems to be the talk of the towns rt now...Twas good to know your opinion!

Arun Kumar said...

@Tanny, Thanks for the comment.

@Shareef SMA, Thanks for the comment.

@Indiawilds, Thank you.

Deepz said...

Nice review.

I generally like Bond movies. But haven't watched them after Daniel Craig began to portray Bond. Somehow I cant bear to see him as 'Bond'.