I actually attended a movie theater for the first time in a year or so in order to see Skyfall. During my visit I was reminded why I never attend movie theaters anymore. Whatever, on to the film.
Overall, I think this installment of the series was rather well done. It doesn't reach the same heights as Casino Royale but it does have its moments. What did not work was that it was trying to be all things to all fans. We had hints of the older Bond films with wild flirtations and womanizing ways. But instead of making any kind of commentary on these procedures (as past Craig Bond films have done) it was left hanging. The Bond girls were superfluous to the plot, therefore introduced and shown the door quite quickly. It made me wonder why they were included at all except to pander to men who want to see proof that Bond is still heterosexual.
Which leads me to much ballyhooed "gay" Bond villain, Silva, played with abandon by Javier Bardem. I didn't think the character was given enough background or screen time to establish his sexuality or personality. It all came from Bardem's press interviews. The announcement that this character was gay was the same as J.K. Rowling announcing that Dumbledore was gay. As in neither Bond film or HP books show these characters as active homosexuals. What the film did do rather sneakily was shift the perception of Bond's sexual practices. He is just as much a honeypot as one of his doomed lovers in the film. If the job called for it, he would sleep with men just as he willingly sleeps with women. Unfortunately the film shies away from showing this side of Bond and his singleminded tactics in getting the villain.
Since there was no Bond "girl", this void was taken up by Judy Dench's M. This was the strong point of the film. She is showcased to be a rather manipulative and neglectful mother. Her spy department consisted of her method of seeking out men who are orphans. Obviously they were needy and susceptible to mother figures. Which is how Dench's M gained their loyalty. The film also draws numerous similarities between M and past Bond love Vesper. They are, in essence, the same woman in similar predicaments. Both of them are doomed to pay for past mistakes.
Essentially the film is about Bond coming to terms with being an orphan and losing everyone that he loves. This M is the last emotional tie that Bond has in the world. As the film establishes the old conventions of the past Bond films (Moneypenny, Q, etc), we are watching a man losing all his ability to love. This film finishes the character arc begun in Casino Royale through Quantum of Solace.
What we are left with at the end of Skyfall is a cold blooded killer, a man with nothing left to lose. It will be interesting to see if Craig's Bond will be able to regain some of his humanity and if it is addressed in future films.
Labels: commentary, culture, movies, reviews