Skyfall (2012)

Look, I don’t even like James Bond movies. I watched a few of the old ones on TV when I was growing up, but I’ve mostly forgotten them, with the exception of a couple of the more recent Pierce Brosnan ones. Pretty much everything I know about James Bond I got from cultural osmosis. I’ve never read any of the books, either, though I read a few short stories, and a travelogue Ian Fleming wrote called Thrilling Cities. The only Bond movie I have any real affection for is Casino Royale, which I thought was a great spy movie, and which reinvented the character of Bond into one that I actually found interesting, and one that, I am told, more closely matches Fleming’s original character. (Again, this coming from someone who doesn’t really remember any of the old Bond films.) Popcorn Eyeglasses Quantum of Solace I’m just going to pretend didn’t happen.

All that long preamble out of the way, I was really excited to see Skyfall. Partly because I like Daniel Craig, partly because it was directed by Sam Mendes and I was curious to see what he’d do with a film like this, and a lot because the trailer looked just stunning. And the movie was absolutely stunningly photographed and lit, as good as anything I’ve seen in some time, and full of completely beautiful shots. I don’t know how much of that to credit to Mendes and how much to lay at the feet of cinematographer Roger Deakins, but it was breathtaking.

It also seemed to me like a pretty perfect Bond film, and a great counterpoint to Casino Royale. Even though the end of the movie implied more adventures, and there are already more Bond films in the works, this felt like Bond’s last mission, to correspond nicely with Casino Royale‘s first mission. I’ll refrain from spoilers or anything like them, or even talking much more about the movie, but I thought it was a nice combination of homage to and deconstruction of the old Bond films (without ever getting too heavily into either), and wisely focused on Bond’s relationship with M. And of course Javier Bardem was a great villain. Is anyone surprised?

Anyway, I don’t really have any attachment to the Bond franchise. One of my movie projects in the future, when I finish my Hitchcock marathon, is going to be to revisit at least one movie from every Bond over the years, just to see what they’re really like. But I liked Casino Royale, and I liked Skyfall. Quite a lot.

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