Action Movie Friday: 007, Skyfall

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: 007: Skyfall
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 2012
Genre: spy, thriller, action
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Ian Flemming (books)
Distributor: Columbia (Sony), Fox, MGM
Budget: $200 Million
Box Office: $ 1.111 Billion

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%

Gingersnaps Rating: Five Cookies!

Summary:

The threats of a digital age. When a list of NATO agents and their deep cover identities is stolen, it sets off a chain of events that sends Bond on the trail of a former agent. An agent with links to M’s past, Silva. With the identities of every agent undercover at risk, M faces a terrible choice. Pull the agents or hope that whoever attained the list doesn’t make their identities known. Her entire career under fire, M is forced to defend herself to the highest authorities. Bond apprehends the culprit, but it is part of a greater plan, a plan to kill M. Bond’s past and M’s past collide as they make a daring attempt to draw Silva out and end it once and for all.

Review:

Skyfall is more of an introspective Bond movie or at least as introspective as Bond actually gets. The story dealing with the issues of our age. How do we deal with those that can do more damage with a computer than they can with actual spy work? Are deep cover operatives and clean up men like Bond still necessary in today’s age? And what does one do when an outside party puts those agents in harm’s way? An interesting note was just the night before watching this movie I was rewatching series Eleven of Bones and the episode “High Treason in the Holiday Season” that was the retelling of Snowden. These both touch on that Snowden conundrum and the horrifying results of what happens to the agents who do have their cover blown. Different stories, same end result. All this to say that the plot is timely and relevant and executed in almost a quiet manner. (Which for an action film this is saying something.)

Skyfall started to bring in the references to classic bond. Trying to set the movies who up until now have been “prequels” of other Bond films (or if you want to call this a reboot fine, it’s a reboot) firmly into the timeline of other “Bond” films. They finally introduce Q, or Quartermaster. They bring out another classic Aston Martin. As soon as you see the Aston Martin, you know that there is something going to happen that involves the car. The car is more than just a car as it were, because this is Bond. So, while they are making these call outs, they do remain decidedly cheeky about it. Q makes a pointed comment about exploding pens and the technology he gives Bond is decidedly old school, a distress signal radio and a gun, but with modern twists, no doubt that radio sends signal to a satellite and the gun has a palm reader grip.

The progression of the plot is not as convoluted this time. To me, spy films often feel like a game of “Choose your McGuffin” and then throw darts at a map on where the spy is to go. In the case of Quantum of Solace they really didn’t provide enough visual clues in the movie to be able to justify their global hopping. In Skyfall they do give these clues so the viewer can follow along with Bond’s thought processes. It makes for a much better story overall.

And it is only fitting that an end of a trilogy of ‘prequels’ that we get to see where Bond came from and some clues about his past other than he is an orphan. Welcome to Scotland, indeed. One cookie.

Yes, there was an explosion involving a helicopter going into a building and some gas canisters and a pithy comment from Bond. Beautiful. One Cookie.

The fight scenes are as usual entertaining. Bond always does get into it with the antagonists and the directors and writers do try to make each scene different from the movie before. The fight scene that stands out though in Skyfall is one of the early on scenes in Shanghai. The fight felt more about beautiful cinematography than people punching each other and yet didn’t distract from the fact that it was a fight scene. I’d give a bonus bit of cookie if I could. One Cookie.

There are three women in Skyfall, M, Eve and Severine. Skyfall at its heart is a movie about M, and M and Bond’s relationship. It has been made clear throughout these movies that Bond views M as a mother of sorts. That he is willing to do extreme things to keep her safe and do things for her that he wouldn’t do for anybody else. M, though is not his mother and she has to make difficult choices between her agents and the job she asks them to do. Silva tries to use this bond and this contradiction between mother and employer to get to Bond and try to turn him. Bond is shown to be the better man because he maintains his loyalty to M despite what Silva categorizes as a betrayal. M’s faith in Bond in putting him back in the field could be more of a sign of trust in or maternal love of Bond than any sort of pass and fail tests could ever display. M is proud. M is determined. And we see this in how she approaches the end of her career as she goes up against a female Prime Minister.

Skyfall is interesting in this way that it portrays in the same movie how women are treated in the franchise, women of power, women as equals and women as victims. (And the usual, woman as sexual objects by Bond as the woman he has in Turkey who never even got a name.) M and the Prime Minister are women in power. Eve is Bond’s equal. She’s an agent who is good at her job. She also faces tough choices. Fortunately, Bond doesn’t seem to hold it against her. There is a sexual element to their relationship that is never consummated for reasons. (If you haven’t seen the movie I won’t spoil it for you.) Whereas Severine is woman as victim. Severine is almost a footnote in this story. She passes through it with little fanfare for under twenty minutes. She forms a connection with Bond. She is trapped by her circumstances. She and Bond share a moment and then her part of the story comes to an end. She was pretty bait set by Silva in order to lure Bond into his trap. Silva’s plan relied greatly on Bond being at the right places at the right time. Perhaps Silva had many plans. We don’t know, but Severine was a victim of her circumstances. Would of it been nice to see Bond actually help her get away? Perhaps. Would have it made for a better film? I don’t know. One cookie.

Nothing dragged me out of the story. The evolution of technology was fun to see. Shanghai is apparently very pretty at night. I don’t think Komodo dragons really try to eat people. But I’ll let it slide for now. One cookie.

Skyfall is an entertaining and yet sensitive look at the issues of the digital age. There is more nuance given to the roles of women in the movie and the mixture of old callouts with new ideas is incredibly fun to watch. Five cookies.

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