Frat Boy At the Movies: Skyfallon November 10, 2012 at 1:36 am
Skyfall isn’t as bad as Quantum of Solace (but seriously, what could be?). But not only is it probably one of the top five worst Bond movies, it barely qualifies as a Bond movie at all. It’s probably as bad as Casino Royale is good. I think the problem lies squarely on the screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan.
Although this trio wrote the screenplay for Casino Royale, that one is based on one of the Ian Fleming novels, Casino Royale. They had a good story to begin with. With Quantum of Solace, as I mentioned in my previous review, the screenwriters try to get away from the very thing that makes Bond, Bond. To me, this is a very Hollywood thing. A “re-imagining” of the character if you will. One problem: If you don’t substitute what you remove with something equally clever or interesting, all you’re doing is cocking up the movie. And you don’t get more cocked up than Quantum of Solace.
This Bond movie does have a few nice moments, a more sensible plot and a first act that seems to be driving somewhere. Unfortunately, after some interesting scenery, it drives right into a ditch and then spends the rest of the film spinning its wheels. I am not surprised at all to read that the original screenwriter, Peter Morgan, left the project and that the trio then took over. Then tendency is when you rewrite something is to rewrite more of the end and less of the beginning. You see if you rewrite the beginning, then you automatically change the end so drastically, you’re essentially removing everything. So I’m guess Morgan probably had most of his first act left.
The problems with Acts 2 and 3 is that it’s not really a Bond movie. And since the opening and first Act are about Bond and a nameless villain that dies early, there’s no groundwork for when Javier Bardem makes an entrance. You just don’t care. Who is this guy? Well, the movie tells us, but that’s not what screenwriters are supposed to do. They are supposed to show us why Javier’s character is so important. This never happens. Although it supposedly personal between Judy Dench’s M and Javier’s Mr. Silver, we don’t feel it. Most of all, Bond is the main fucking character. If anyone should have a personal grudge against a villain, it should be Bond, not Judy Dench.
The ending? Well, don’t expect an awesome fight between Bond on a blimp in Istanbul sword fighting. Don’t expect an exotic locale with weird makeshift weapons and James Bond’s luck and charm seeing him through. What you get is a totally telegraphed, step-by-step shoot out you could probably see on the season finale of a TV cop show. Seriously, it’s not much better than that. And the setting for the big finale holds no weight, but the writers, I suspect, want it to because of what they tell you the location is. And even Bond, the character hates it, so how do you expect this setting to be oh-so-awesome or revealing or neat, if the main fucking character is sorry he ever went there.
I suspect that these three screenwriters wouldn’t know clever if clever kicked them all in the nads and shouted, “Hey, I’m clever! Nice to meet you!” Once again, they deconstruct Bond. They simultaneously pay homage and make fun of the gadgets and then end with the scene you actually wanted to see, as if this is some big revelation. It’s Bond. We know the moves, gentlemen and we paid to see them executed well. Deconstructed them gains you nothing but yawns in the audience and my ire.
I have never scene audience members walk out of a Bond movie, but the two guys in front of me and the Missus did. That should tell you all you need to know. Skyfall is a rental at best. I give it 3 out of 10 keggers. You’ve been warned, bros.