After the Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace flick (I count them as one film because, watch them one after the other like I did before seeing Skyfall, they are) I was expecting James Bond to continue in a similar vein.
Ok, QoS left a lot to be desired – crucially because it overplayed the trivial Bolivian water monopoly aspect of the film and underdeveloped the revenge against Quantum plotline.
But at least it had a plot.
So when I walked into the theater Saturday night, I was looking for a similar experience: a tightly wound action film with a certain level of British ironic detachment.
What I got was a massive letdown. I’m not saying I want my money back, but I also don’t want to see it again. And that’s a failure in my book.
So here are the five reasons Skyfall failed, let me know how strongly you agree with me in the comments:
1) Raoul Silva was the worst villain ever.
Part Anonymous, part Joker, part what-ever-his-name-was in No Country for Old Men, Silva was as improbable as he was laughable. And while I know that’s “the whole point” of Bond villains, I’m at a loss to understand why they didn’t bring Quantum back into it.
Quantum was like Al Qaida on steroids – making it both relatable and theatric. Silva was like the Joker… but shittier.
And why, after he killed at random every person he saw throughout the film, did he suddenly show compassion towards Bond’s gamekeeper (Hagrid?) at the end of the film? IT JUST DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE.
Really, had he killed Hagrid (that’s what I’m calling him), no one would have given a shit anyway. Living or dead, Hagrid was inconsequential. Just like Silva.
That’s really the whole thing, isn’t it? Sliva had a stupid back story and, much as the producers tried, he never actually made the audience feel anything. We never felt bad for him, we never liked him, and most importantly, we were never afraid of him.
He just sucked really hard. And when he died, I was happy the movie was over.
2) The old person shuffle.
Judi Dench was great as M. In Casino Royale and QoS she just nailed it. She was cold, she was removed. And she didn’t give a fuck. (More on that later.)
But she isn’t an action figure. And neither is Hagrid.
When the movie finally lumbered – and I mean lumbered – its way to Skyfall where, for no reason, Bond and M decided to make their absurd last stand (after fortifying it against a zombie invasion for half the movie), Judi was suddenly an action hero. And that is really stupid.
Basically M and Bond and Bond’s gamekeeper Hagrid decided to make a last stand at Skyfall against waves, literal waves, of bad guys.
Bond, because he’s Bond, runs around like Rambo and engages in general badassery. Meanwhile M and Hagrid shuffle awkwardly out of Bond’s way. It’s hilarious.
There’s a solid 5 minutes where Bond is murdering villains and M and Hagrid just keep walking, slowly, out of the way of the camera. If you didn’t notice it the first time, watch it again. But pirate it, because don’t waste your money.
This old person shuffle is really, actually, sad. Because not only does it make the scene look even more stupid, but it robs Judi of all the dignity she had built up over the last decade as M.
It was nice they killed off Judi at the end of the film. I even contemplated offing myself.
3) M isn’t your mother.
In order to play up the new, emotional side of Bond, Skyfall attempts to dramatize some sort of connection between M and Bond. And it fails.
Skyfall is premised on the idea that Silva perceived himself as being fucked over by M in the 90’s and is out for revenge. That’s why all this stuff happens.
M and Bond, conversely, have a better relationship, for some reason, because Bond knows that when M has him shot, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t like him.
That’s literally all the back story there is. Why do M and Bond have a more-than-coworker relationship? Don’t ask questions.
What’s really disappointing is that M never actually seems good in any sense of the word. She sort of explains what happened between her and Silva in a 10 second scene and then it’s off to Skyfall.
But she never explains away the basic, cold truth: she did fuck over Silva, the same way she fucked over Bond. And she would do it again. Because it’s her job. And she shouldn’t feel bad about it.
Skyfall makes Bond out to be a sloppy idiot who thinks M is his mother. Gawd James, pull yourself together.
4) Waves of bad guys.
So Bond and M, for some reason, decide to flee London (where they have a fortified, underground bunker!!) and go to James’ old home in the Scottish countryside. It’s literally just a home in a huge field… at the bottom of a hill. You know, where all forts ever have been built.
But M and Bond are no dummies. Enlisting the help of Bond’s gamekeeper, Hagrid, who is more slavish Labrador than cognizant human being, they build traps out of shotgun shells and light bulbs.
Silva then sends in about 10 men to go kill Bond and M. They all get killed.
Then Silva himself comes, in a helicopter, and instructs his men to “leave M for me.” It feels more like a showdown between Sonic and Dr. Eggman than a James Bond flick.
But seriously, waves of bad guys? I can feel the writers, coming to this point in the script, just running out of ideas. The gears just stopped working.
And then they brought in the writer behind every Power Ranger fight scene ever.
“You know what will make it better? Waves of bad guys.”
Because anytime you have no idea what to do next, random violence that doesn’t move the plot forward is a great answer.
5) It was a bad movie.
That’s the real reason Skyfall was so terrible. It just wasn’t a good flick. It was slow, clunky, uninteresting and utterly lacking passion. It never broke new ground or took any risks. It never explored the characters in any meaningful way.
It just took the best parts of a lot of other movies, No Country for Old Men, the Batman trilogy, and yes, some good James Bond movies, and added a martini, shaken but not stirred.
Skyfall is just meaningless conversation punctuated with equally meaningless violence with the Double O logo slapped on.
James Bond may be back, but he doesn’t seem happy about it.
In sum, Skyfall failed to add anything to the James Bond legacy. It isn't the worst movie ever made, but it is uninteresting. C-