National cinema day and Bond is back in action....or rather a bit of brand repositioning for the post cold war period which they never quite completed with Brosnan at the helm.
Skyfall was billed as the best Craig and possibly the best bond film ever, so I came with expectations on being wowed and left a little non chalant.
The trouble is that Daniel Craig just doesn't cut the mustard as Commander Bond. He is a bit of rough, where as Bond is Mr. Smooth. He has a kind of polish looking face, ultimately suitably for east european or germanic baddies such as in The Da Vinci Code.
It is really in his eyes too, he lacks the eyes for a hero, always on the edge of vulnerability. He lacks the accent and intonation of a Bond. Even Lazenby and dull old Dalton did the classic bond one liners much better, Moore had his wry way and of course Sean Connery had both the tone and the slight cynicism to carry off the original cheeky scripts and classics like "shocking" and "she should have kept her mouth shut" (well after Niven and Jimmy Bond).
In this bond they finally come to grips with making Bond relevant for the cyber terror and unkown enemy era. This could have been left to the audience to pick up between the lines, but rather this "brand repositioning" is conducted with heavy mono- and dialogue to the political back drop. The reality of the earlier cold war and the Al Queda period are enough of a stormy back drop for the films for them to handle the repositioning by just getting on with the action, in classic bond way: a quick brefiing from M, a trip to Q for his new gadgets and off on action.
Here however in Skyfall, we are confronted with "what is Bond's relevance for the cyber terror age, discuss in a dramatised screenplay". We see bond drinking beer and copious amounts of Macallan rather than his usual Voddie Martinis.
Bond doesnt suprise us either. The opening scene is pretty amazingly weel put together, but it is carried off with a screen play and cinematography which does not suprise. There is a digger, he uses that ...rather than, where is bond ? Oh he's in a digger knocking the guy about! THe first three bond actors (broccoli era) were always in some element of tension, vulnerability and suprise. Daniel Craig has an air of supremacy about his prescence, the physical arrogance of a hard door watch or a boxer before the fight.
Another thing is Daniel Craig is getting old, really looking old with greay stubble and wrinkles. They introduce his vulnerability as both physical and political.
Xavier Bardem although by no means miscast, esepcially after no-country-for-old-men, is given a plasticy set of monologues and him as a computer genius, evil despot is just not carried off. He just goes on a bit too much and it gets a bit boring. Also he is too close to the action: we prefer our bond baddies as puppeteers who can at any point vapourise into the back ground when their foot soldiers are all lying dead. In fact I think he could have been a "Blofelt" for the next film or jump over a film.
Skyfall then as a name, is just not believable as a title for a Scottish Highland estate. Skyefall, or some gaelic scots wording, but the name sounded like a parachute attempt.
Realistically, they should look to do a remake of Thunderball which stands as one of the very best bonds with a more believable plot than Gold Finger and Dr. No, while having more action and pzazz than the perhaps most realistic film "from Russia with Love".
Anyhows, back to Skyfall, which has a semi believable London scene and then a "back to basics" scene with a mansion house computer imposed from a suffolk mere to a west highland Lochhead. Dame Judy Dench suffers the ignomosity of having to work for a living and also being fatally wounded. Exit stage left for bus pass dame Judy, enter Feinnes as the new M.
Bond, on the ground, iPad and facebook free, is then delivered his next brief, and this is actually the most satisfying part of the film: cloak and dagger is maintained to fight in a new and hopefully better bond scenario.