As with the gorgeous camerawork in the Robert Zemeckis epic film Flight, the stunning visuals in Skyfall set the tone for the owners of the 007 franchise to go back to what a Bond film is all about: intrigue, drama, a superb score, breathtaking scenery and our hero up against a mentally deranged, maniacal and thoroughly damaged human being.
So what if Daniel Craig comes off less the suave spy and more like a hard-hitting blood ‘n guts detective Mike Hammer from Mickey Spillane’s novels…the film is pure Bond that we know and love from days gone by. And what is an interesting aspect of 007 lore is that without the huge marquee attractions of Sean Connery, Roger Moore (TV’s The Saint) and Pierce Brosnan (TV’s Remington Steele), great stories became the “stars” replacing those big names. Some of the best of these stories were written for the lesser-known Bonds – George Lazenby’s serious (and truly underrated) 1969 performance as 007 in the thrilling On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – directed by Peter R. Hunt with editing by John Glen (who also worked on the TV series “Secret Agent”), Timothy Dalton’s smooth acting in 1987’s very good The Living Daylights with an even better storyline to follow in License to Kill (1989)…and now, Skyfall. Important to note that the aforementioned Glen went from editing Bond films (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and others) to directing both License to Kill and Living Daylights.
Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace both left this Bond fan and film critic with a sense that the series had gone off the rails. Yes, Casino Royale had all the trappings – even hints of Secret Service, but the new direction still needed an older, wiser Pierce Brosnan-type to fill in the blanks. Where the producers allowed Roger Moore to age gracefully in his Bond escapades, Brosnan just disappeared, stating to ABC News’ Sheila Marikar in February of 2010 that he was as puzzled as we: ” “I was wondering why the door closed on me!,” he (Brosnan) said of being dropped from the role. “I thought everything was going so well!
The current producers of the series, Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, certainly have a good handle on the film Bond – Wilson’s father was the first Batman on film, the 1943 serial available on DVD and worth catching. So in his 70th year, the step-son of the late Albert R. Broccoli, along with Broccoli’s daughter, take the Bond film saga into its 50th year
Singer Adele does her best Shirley Bassey (too bad Shirley’s didn’t have the opportunity to do the closing credits), Dame Judi Dench is brilliant reprising her role as M, and the one hundred and forty-three minutes are worth the two hundred million dollars spent. As I write this review the film has just about made its money back, and it will inspire a new generation to go back and love Secret Service, Living Daylights, Goldfinger, Thunderball …everything but Peter Seller’s Casino Royale (trumped by the original Bond, the 1954 Casino Royale with Barry Nelson as Bond and Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre). This review intentionally dances around the plot, enough other critics can go there if they wish, it’s more of a commentary on the series, and how Skyfall gets a thumbs up for having a great title, smart ideas, and adding an intriguing and well-thought out bit of movie magic to this important series of classic films.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.