Sunday, November 04, 2012

Skyfall

I liked this movie a lot. I usually like Bond movies. But this movie, while not in the Caliber of 'Casino Royal' is definitely right up there with other good Bond movies such as 'From Russia With Love' and 'Thunder Ball'. The queer part is that this movie's story isn't entirely original. This movie is an updated version of Mission Impossible - 1, where agent (Ethan Hunt) is assigned to recover a stolen NOC list of double agents. This movie also had footage that looked very similar to an Indiana Jones movie. The one where Kate Capshaw and Ford play a game where they drink shots of alcohol with scorpions around. Maybe, Sam Mendes is doing what cinema people weirdly call as "paying homage" to Spielberg. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about a director such as Sam Mendes at the helm of a Bond movie. I don't rate him highly and outside of the average Road To Perdition, I generally disliked Sam Mendes movies. Thankfully, he doesn't botch this one up.

James Hadley Chase wrote a lot of thrilling 4-5 hour-read books. Many of which would make superb plot choices for Bond movies. In particular he wrote a series of books featuring an ex-CIA agent called Mark Girland, whose character was very similar to that of Bond.  Skyfall feels like one of those Mark Girland stories (I think it feels close to "Have This One On Me"). This makes Skyfall endearing. It has a simple plot but has our familiar characters getting more and more personally involved in the plot. As a viewer, I am not kept too much in the dark. I know Bond is in search of a list that someone has stolen. and the movie nicely teases and takes us through interesting plot situations. Where this movie falls short of Casino Royal is in its inability to decide the genre. Casino Royal (which was relatively low on huge action set pieces) and MI-1 (Tom Cruise never fires a gun) were pure dramas. The 'action expectation' was set low and this allowed the viewer to soak in a good thriller.  This movie starts with a show-piece pre-title action scene and then settles down to a more relaxed pace. Occasionally it throws in some 'Michael Bay' type blockbuster scenes as well. I felt that it gave good taste of both genres. One could argues that this movie is neither here nor there in its genre.

I found Q under-whelming. Its a good idea but poorly executed. He looks smart, touts that he is very smart but does really little to help Bond in any meaningful way. The villain was very interesting and engaging. Judi Dench and Daniel Craig are as charming as ever. If you are used to great Bond movie climax set pieces with the villain dying in a blaze of glory, you will be let down with this whimper of a climax. But its what happens after the villain dies that makes the movie charming in an old fashioned Bond way.