I‘m not a huge fan of the James Bond franchise, and don’t generally favor action flicks. They lack characterization, depth and any thematic cohesion. Furthermore character needs are usually simplistic and one dimensional, with the most common being the need to survive. However, Skyfall, the 23rd installment in the half century James Bond franchise is a fantastic reboot that has it all; bombastic action, glorious set pieces in exotic locations, great acting and layers of characterization and ambitious themes, including a wink to the Oedipal complex that scarily reveals itself more than once.
Daniel Craig, may be the shortest actor to play Bond but he is certainly the fittest. At first glance he appears the physical apotheosis of Sean Connery; fair skinned, blue-eyed, compact and muscular instead of tall, dark and lithe. Craig is gruff, emotionally wounded, and not classically good looking-his ears speak for themselves. Connery is graceful and possess tongue-in-cheek machismo and swooning model looks. Despite this, many critics are already saying Craig is the best bond since Connery.
Tough times call for a tough, yet realistic hero and all heroes need a costume as they run about leaping onto trains, dangling from buildings and plunging into frozen lake waters. Bond’s fantastic suits fit Daniel Craig like a second skin. They manage to flow and shift with his athletic feats so effortlessly that they seem to be painted on. No man has done this much for fashion in a long time. Is it the suit or the man? Either way you will want what Bond has.
Directed by Sam Mendes, who won an Oscar for his first feature, American Beauty, Skyfall brings 007 into the modern era where the biggest threat comes from a cyber attack. This of course doesn’t stop the exciting action and chase sequences. Thanks to a solid script by Neil Purvis, John Logan and Roger Wade, Mendes has real characters to work with and no matter how spectacular the action set pieces are, bond always seems human.
Among the flawed characters is Dame Judi Dench’s matriarchal “M.” As it turns out, Silva, the villain played by Javier Bradem is seeking revenge for something M did in the past. She has also recently lost a computer file extremely important to the security of the British secret service. She begins to question her own competency, but doesn’t show the cracks, especially while defending herself in a government inquisition about recent incidents.
Bradem who previously won an Oscar for playing a cold hearted villain with a bad haircut in No Country for Old Men, is once again donning a hideous do, while stealing every scene he is in. Chilling and funny at the same time Bradem plays the mastermind behind the plot to foil M16 and specifically wreck revenge on “Mommie” – Judi Dench’s M.
Speaking of mother’s, I hope Sophocles is receiving residuals for the Oedipal themes that run throughout Skyfall. Both Silva and Bond have disappointed M, the mother figure in some capacity. In turn M has abandoned each of them as well and appears to never be pleased with their efforts. Yet they still seek her attention whether it is good or bad attention. Bond is the good son, Silva is the bad son. At one point Silva tells Bond that M has lied to him, Bond says she would never lie to me. But she has lied to him. She has lied to him as a mother would lie to her son to protect him and give him what he wants. It is a lie from love and like all mothers who tell their child they are the smartest kid in the class, when she clearly knows he isn’t, M is quickly forgiven. The Oedipal thread comes full circle at the end of the film in a scene that symbolizes a possible consummation (n a deadly way) between son and mother, luckily this is thwarted.
There are also themes and images of resurrection and rebirth throughout, as if to symbolize the rebirth of BOND and the franchise itself. Rebirth plays nicely with the mother son themes as well.
Don’t let all the deeper meaning and intentions scare you away from Skyfall, it isn’t really a Greek Tragedy. It has plenty of action, beautiful women, fantastic clothes, and exotic locations. The hand to fist fight Bond has with an assassin in a Shanghai skyscraper is worth the ticket alone. It is bold and original, much like the rest of the film; which is something you will not say about other franchise films. Adele singing the theme song over the great credit sequence is only icing on the cake. Go see it!
Playing at Salmon Run Mall stadium 12 seating.
Saturday, February 13, 2016, Watertown, NY