Oh boy. This is going to be it. This is going to be the blog which gets me the truckloads of abuse, the death-threats, and all the rest of the creepy stuff.
Because I watched Skyfall today, and I wasn’t as blown away by it as everyone else seems to have been.
Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy it. It was the best Bond film I’ve seen in a long while; better than Quantum of Solace, even better than Casino Royale. It had the action, the gadgets, the pithy one liners, the protagonist moving from girl to girl in a manner which would be insultingly demeaning without the suave 007 logo. It had everything that a Bond film needs.
But that’s just it. It was a good Bond film. But rated as simply a film, it felt a touch disappointing.
Skyfall, like all of the Bond series, occupies a strange world where people communicate in the sort of clichés that elsewhere would make me cringe and want to hunt down the script writer. Its plot hangs on the unlikeliest of coincidences, stretched thin like canvas over poles.
And yet I enjoyed it.
Part of that, I think, is the confidence with which it wears its outrageousness. The franchise has been doing this for fifty years now, and has shown itself to be surprisingly resilient — most notably with the Casino Royale reinvention for the modern age. It’s somewhat daft, but we collectively buy into it as audience. It’s why all the anniversary nostalgic crowd-pleasers (which I won’t spoil here) work so well.
So, despite my reservations about it as a piece of cinema, I did enjoy the watching of it.
A large part of that success has to be lain at the door of Javier Bardem, whose villain Raoul Silva manages to be both brilliantly entertaining and actually slightly scary. I can’t remember the last time that happened. The plot is wafer thin, but Bardem plays it with such raw and manic insanity and instability that it was hard not to like him.
Bond is never going to be a serious, gritty and realistic espionage drama (for that, see the excellent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). What it is is a different kind of action film. I think Skyfall suffered from poor expectation management. There were a lot of people raving about how excellent it was, leading me to hope that maybe it had broken the mould. It hasn’t. Which is a good or bad thing, depending on your opinion.
I’m not a huge Bond fan. And I still think that Daniel Craig looks like someone shaved a gorilla and put it in a tuxedo. But I do think that Skyfall is worth a watch. Probably.