Confession time: I have never before seen a Bond movie from start to finish. My dad is a big fan, so of course I’ve seen bits and pieces of all the movies over the years, and I’m familiar with the basic premise, characters, and idea behind them. But this was my first time actually going to a theater to watch one.
As a Bond newbie, my big reaction was: this is not what I expected. First, Daniel Craig’s Bond is less sleek and more gritty, and in this movie, he seems downright old at times. I get that Bond (and M) aging was a part of the storyline, but it didn’t seem like typical Bond fare to me and, more important than that, it wasn’t very compelling. Second, this movie was…boring. Despite some cool action sequences, I never felt like much was happening. Sometimes you see a movie that’s roughly 2.5 hours and it breezes by because you’re enjoying it so much. Other times you see a movie that’s roughly 2.5 hours and you are aware of every minute slowly passing by. Guess which one this movie was.
The other thing I found unexpected was how much of the movie truly belongs to Judi Dench, playing M. In fact, part of the reason that this did not seem quite like a Bond movie was that it seemed so much more like an M movie. I can’t really complain about that, however, because Dench was pretty fantastic here – a solid combination of poignantly aging while still fiercely clinging to her old job and old ways. In fact, Dench is so good that I think it becomes a problem for the movie: I found her more compelling than Craig’s Bond in a lot of ways.
Also creepily compelling was Javier Bardem, playing the role of terrifyingly bleached blonde villain Silva. I’ve read several articles saying Bardem should (but probably won’t) get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for this role, and while I would not go that far, he is damn good in this movie. I also liked that Silva had a well-defined back story here; he wasn’t just one of those movie villains who randomly wants to cause death and destruction because he’s eeeeeevil. Even though the character was majorly twisted, you could sort of understand how he became that way.
And so Dench and Bardem give great performances here, meaning that I left my first foray into the wild world of Bond thinking that, though Skyfall had some real high points, it was more lackluster than I had expected. If you’ve seen the movie, what do you think? Am I just missing something as a Bond newbie, or was Skyfall really a tad underwhelming?
My Grade: B
(Image via Coventry Observer)