The best thing about going to see a James Bond movie is the hot women. And the second best thing is also the hot women. But the third best thing is the brilliant spy story.* And in all of these areas Skyfall, the 23rd installment in a 50 year franchise, does a fantastic job. Especially the hot women part.
But also especially the brilliant story part.
Sam Mendes, who is known for directing awesome things like American Beauty, directed this awesome thing, and that worried me at first because I was afraid James Bond would be stuck fighting a middle-class malaise that comes from the suffocation of rote existence, or maybe the slow unraveling of self from a life wasted on banality…but no. It was still swarthy guys with machine guns. That was a lucky break for James, I think. The movie has all the trimmings of a movie by a guy who knows exactly what he’s doing and isn’t focusing on how much blow he can do off someone’s breasts in the makeup trailer. Even the fight scenes were pretty and brilliantly blocked and choreographed.
I’ve said before, usually to my cat when I’m drunk, that Daniel Craig is the best Bond. The cat just looks at me funny and then licks himself , but I can tell he totally takes my point. He (Daniel Craig, not my cat) is the perfect mix of Connery’s manliness, Moore’s roguishness, Dalton’s… shit…that sentence just kinda fell apart.
Dalton sucked the bag.
Craig even encapsulates the worldliness and confidence of Ian Fleming’s literary Bond. Without as much of a focus on misogyny and smoking. He brings a depth and a realness to the character. A flawed Bond. A believable one. Watching James Bond movies as a kid, he was like a superhero. Infallible and unbeatable. It didn’t matter that Goldfinger had him tied to a table with a laser creeping towards his junk. He’d escape. Craig’s Bond seems perfectly capable of failing. And failing for very human reasons. As a parent, realism in movies is important to me. I want to make sure that my kids know that they have reason to be concerned should they find themselves strapped to a table in the lair of a pasty, overly blonde man. Lasers, shark tanks…these things could harm you or at the very least make you look like you are not in control of the situation. Growing up is hard.
Javier Bardem continues his weird trend playing an amazing psychopath with bad hair. I could watch his crazy all day long though. If his crazy was on TV , I would lay off the porn and watch it like that stupid A Christmas Story marathon on Christmas Eve. If his crazy was at the zoo, I would sit on the bench across from it and make up stories about the time it became my friend and taught me the ways of the jungle. Seriously. This is not just the best Bond villain in the history of the franchise, but one of the great movie villains of the last 20 years. That puts him in the same league as Tyler Durden, and the Joker, and the ginger tattle-tale kid from Dead Poet’s Society. He is reason enough to see this movie.
But there is so much more to love about this movie: Berenice Marlohe, the winks to classic Bond, the new incarnation of “Q,” as played by the everywhere-all-of-a-sudden Ben Whishaw, who brings a whipper-snapperishness to the role that makes him very likable and refreshing, the silly one-liners from the Moore-Era, Scotland, majestic Elk statues, an abandoned island fortress set that is bananas and makes me want to move there tomorrow. It’s all of the Bond grandeur with none of the Bond Chest hair. Win/Win.
And yeah…the boobies. They’re PG-13, but they are exceptional. And your kids can enjoy them too!
This film won the weekend, earning $87 million dollars or something. It earns every penny of it. Every MONEYPENNY! Amiright?! Up top! (*high fives cat*)
*The fourth best thing is popcorn.