The new James Bond movie has recieved a lot of good press, many people have told me it’s a great movie and they’re not wrong as such. They’re just misguided.
Skyfall is a good action movie, it’s a decent spy movie. It’s even a pretty good homage to Bond films… but it is not a James Bond movie. Now before you rampage and get angry, let me explain myself.
James Bond has been a movie franchise for 50 years now (the first movie Dr No was released in 1962) and has developed a very specific formula and set of tropes over it’s storied history. These tropes are what makes a Bond movie, and SkyFall does not do them justice.
When watching the movie, my first disappointment came in the first 2 minutes. There is no down-the-barrel shot to start the movie off. This is a basic tenant of the Bond formula. This is how you start. It takes 20 seconds of screen time and I don’t see any reason not to do it. I feel it must be indicative of the creators mindset when making this movie that he felt he could just ditch this iconic image.
Then we move onto the controversial topic of the bond girl. It is true that previous incarnation of 007 have been rather sexist, and while that is a part of this character I can accept that it may need to be changed to conform to modern sensibilities. I have no issue with that. What I take issue with is the way in which SkyFall accomplishes this. It seems to me that in order to stop Bond being a sexist pig, they just removed the bond girl. This is a tragedy. Surely you could write a strong female counterpart to Bond that isn’t just there as the target of objectification? To change the air of sexism you need to move Bond’s opinions, not remove all the female characters.
This latest James Bond movie also has the lamest Q ever to grace the silver screen. If we’re talking about gadgets, then the last Mission Impossible movie was a better bond film than this one. James Bond was always the Super Spy, fitted out with the most advanced equipment that Her Majesties Secret Service could envision. Don’t get me wrong, I like the old DB5 coming back for a cameo and the McGuyver scene was cool… but that’s not bond. He’s all about the cutting edge, and this movie wasn’t.
Finally we come to my biggest problem with this movie: Daniel Craig. I have nothing against him as an actor, even as an action star, but as Bond? James Bond is smooth. James Bond is cool. James Bond has style. Daniel Craig…. doesn’t. He isn’t even clean shaven for half the movie. He labors through some witty dialogue and even his best bond moment (when he’s walking away from an explosion and takes a second to adjust the cuffs of his shirt) is so out of place with the rest of his performance that it’s jarring.
To me Skyfall feels like a spy movie that throws out the occational nostalgic tip of the hat to the James Bond franchise… but that doesn’t make it a Bond movie.
So my final verdict: Go watch Skyfall, it’s a fun movie… just don’t expect James Bond.
“No mister bond, I expect you to die.” -Goldfinger (1964)