Trying to watch the old films with my son I realized they just do not stand the test of time. They are like some of the successful but long forgotten musicals and skating movies of the 50s. They were fine in their day but now they induce yawns and rolls of the eyes. The new Bond is not about silly gadgets and hammy villains.
Skyfall falls somewhere short of being a great movie but it is certainly great within the Bond series. If someone wants to argue that the first of the Daniel Craig Bonds--Casino Royale—is as good as this? There are arguments to be made perhaps but they would be largely splitting hairs. They keep a large part of the Bond formula—the over the top villain, chases and mayhem—but modernize these and make them seem a tad more realistic. Hell, Craig even looks like he's actually been in a fight.
Skyfall gives a little peak at more of the character James Bond. He had a life before he started wearing tuxedos and sipping martinis. And while the film alludes to this past it does not explore it in depth. How much do we need to know? All the audience needs is a hint and in this case it is a hint that humanizes both Bond and “M” his boss and mother figure.
In Bond films, old or new the villain usually makes the film. And Hollywood has learned that if you need a villain? Javier Bardem will usually fit the bill. Once again he does but he always shows up and acts in everything whether seriousness or scenery chewing is required.
Oddly for a “good” movie there isn’t a lot to say about the plot and the fact that these movies have as much in common with the Bourne series as the old Bonds has been beaten pretty much to death. The plot is simple. You know it. Madman terrorist threatens the world (or a portion of it) and Bond steps in. Mercifully they cut down on the one-liners and gadgetry—even poking fun at the latter. And the one liners that remain are actually funny.
This movie is also a bridge to new versions of old characters and, hopefully, further exploration of the characters that inhabit the Bond universe. It will be interesting to see where they go next, in a world where Russia is not necessarily the presumptive enemy and where, let’s face it. Britain is not the world player they once were.
There is so much interesting to do with this new Bond and signing Craig for three more movies and making excellent choices in new supporting cast bodes well—as does the choice of Sam Mendes to direct. It is to be hoped he is back for the next film.