Thursday, November 15, 2012

The sky is falling

I must be the last line of defense. I watched Skyfall (the new James Bond) a few days ago and even though it was masterfully directed by Sam Mendes and brilliantly filmed and slickly produced, where it counted, it fails.

It's all about the story, stupid.

This film went against the trope: with no discernible bond girl and a different spin on the plot other than 'just' saving the world from mass destruction. This story was a more personal mission that I appreciated but in the end felt like they cheated. Bond films have never been particularly cerebral and have always managed to play out every action scene with an asterisk that states "it's because he's James Bond." At the point where they attempt to put weight into this caricature of a human being (like Dark Knight) is the point where my eyes start to glaze over.

I won't ruin any punchlines other than to say that the film concludes in a cute but unsatisfactory way in which the entirety of the film feels like an old man rambling aimlessly about the origin of present day MI6. Other films have done the 'let me introduce you to a new version of this film's universe' better (Star Trek) whereas others have faltered (Tron). The more I reflect on the film, the more I don't like it. I feel like the second half is quite comic book while the story attempts to provide grounding and weight to the final scenes. This is the inverse of what was intended by the film maker and makes this a far more bitter pill to swallow ... and yet people will still enjoy this.

And so, to summarise, you will enjoy the 'splosions, the action and the presence of Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem ... but only if you don't fall into the plot chasms and prefer your Bond more grounded in reality while still, disturbingly, defying all laws of probability in his pursuit of justice.

Parting shot: I'm getting tired of the producers of these films overreacting to the pressures to convey equal opportunity. I'm pretty sure that Ian Fleming always viewed Ms Moneypenny to be a white woman, correct? The fact that she was a failed field agent that shot 007 and still remained on the payroll says more for reverse racism than it does for her competence or actual worth.