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2013-06-22: Transfered all of my 2011 "My Year in Music" posts from Facebook.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Superficial Bond Reviews --- #23: Skyfall

Yet another disclaimer: This review may be partially or entirely incoherent. A lot of time has passed since I last saw Skyfall, and I don't care enough about this movie to revisit it. All I have to go by, is a bunch of crumpled notes, and they bear the unmistakable marks of someone who was getting drunker and drunker as Skyfall slithered along its 143 minute run time. On top of that, I'll certainly be drinking while I write this review, so the incoherence could and should have an accumulative effect along the way.

Oh, and there may be factual errors, too. Just roll with it.

* So here we go: Skyfall! Cool title. It appears to mean something – unlike the last title, which was specifically engineered to piss me off, and nothing else.

* From what I understand from my notes, this movie opens on some kind of motorcycle chase, where Bond and some bearded Swede stumble across bikes that are so easily available for instant driving that it's like something out of a spoof movie.
Then the worst stunt double in the world appears for a few shots, but I'm willing to forgive how much he doesn't resemble 007. After all – it's got to be near-impossible to find a stunt man with a head that looks even remotely like Craig's: like someone's tried to cram a beehive into a piece of ham with hair glued on top.
But anyway! It looks like I'm a bit confused already, because I've written a note about driving motorcycles across rooftops too, and I'm pretty sure that's from Tomorrow Never Dies. I must have my movies mixed up, because certainly, a Bond movie wouldn't recycle action sequences that have already been done in a previous part of the series, now would it?

Then the chase continues on top of a train, and it's completely crazy and over the top. I love it. Falling cars, gun play, some construction machinery... what more could a boy ask for?

* Shit, now I've lost it again. Bond gets shot and "killed", and I'm not sure which one of the three earlier movies in which this exact thing happens that I'm now confusing with Skyfall. Who cares? I know he's not dead, so the suspense factor equals zero anyway.

* Title sequence time. It's completely gorgeous to look at in every way, and the song is great. Adele's voice is like a velvet-gloved fist in my intestines. I think I may have a new favorite.

* After the intro, the MI6 building explodes. There's mention of computer hacking or something, too, but I'm not paying attention, because whenever someone mentions "hacking" in a movie, my eyes glaze over, and I accelerate my drinking.

Then cut to... Bond is alive! I'm so shocked I spill my drink. Thankfully, I spill the whole thing into my mouth, and it seems that Bond is doing the same thing. He's being "dark" and "self destructive" on some tropical island, and I already start to hate the direction this is heading. Hope he's not gonna start crying again.

* Eventually 007 gets back to London and the new, super gritty headquarters of MI6. Dark and gritty, yeah. Because we live in gritty times, and this is the new and gritty Bond. Go grit.
We find out that Bond has lost, like, 75% of his physical strength and overall spy skills, and I start to wonder how long he's been gone. Decades!? And here I thought that the action sequence and the computer chip MacGuffin in the beginning of the movie was linked to the explosion at MI6... wasn't it? So has a lot of time passed between the two events, just to allow 007 to conveniently deteriorate; or has the plan been executed swiftly, and Bond has fallen to pieces in an instant? Which one is it?
Aaaahhhh... who cares? What really matters, is that Bond for no reason whatsoever has been carrying pieces of a bullet from Bearded Swede in his shoulder.
- "What is stupider than that?" you might ask.
Well, this: the fact that Bearded Swede, "top" assassin, has been using special ammunition that can easily be traced back to him.
- "Why?" might be your follow-up question.
Well, because otherwise there would be no clues, and this movie would be over! That piece of writing right there is way stupider than the piece of writing I'm doing right now. And I don't even get paid for it.

* Then comes the worst scene in the movie, in which a new and young Q (Ben Whishaw) proudly tells Bond that the dickheads responsible for this movie don't go in for the cool gadgets and the fun that the audience loves to see in a Bond movie anymore. Because, see, we're wrong to like that, (since these are new and grittier times) and it's all bluntly hammered home by the presence of a huge, f'ing museum painting that is also explained to us via dialogue, like we even give a shit.
Then Q immediately proceeds to give 007 a tracking device that looks like it's from the early 60s, and a handgun. The gun being a Walther PPK makes no sense at all, by the way. The only reason for that gun being what it is, is to please the nostalgic audience (the ones the movie just told to go piss off) because there are plenty of better guns for a modern spy to use. On top of that, there's fingerprint recognition tech on the gun, and that's (yet again) stolen from another Bond movie. Talk about wanting to have your cake and eat it too: Skyfall tells the audience that we shouldn't like what we like, then it serves us a shitty facsimile of what we used to like. So: Less Bourne than Bourne, less Bond than Bond. Thanks!

Bond: "What are you looking at?"
Annoying Q: "Ways to suck the fun out of this franchise"

* Bond goes to Shanghai, where he uses every chance he gets to take his shirt off, since his PT-designed physique helps to take away the attention from his turnip face. It doesn't really help.
Shanghai looks excellent for this film, and here we get one of the best Bond fights ever, with the worlds worst assassin, Bearded Swede. It's gorgeously shot and choreographed, without ever leaning on that shaky-cam effect (that most of you idiots fail to be as angry about as you should be). Bearded Swede dies, but makes sure that he leaves huge, dumb clues that Bond can follow... because otherwise this movie would be over. See above.

* A bit later, Skyfall manages to follow two idiotic Bond traditions in one scene: a) knowing nothing about how any animal on the planet behaves (komodo dragons, this time!) and b) suddenly and conveniently needing that one, specific gadget Bond has just been supplied with.
I have virtually no time to make fun of that sequence, before Bond and some woman have steamy sex in the shower. It's like the shower sex scene in the Specialist! Remember that, with Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone? Gah, is that a vomit stain on my notes? I wonder what brought that on – thinking about the Specialist or watching the scene in Skyfall? Bit of both, maybe.

* Then it's finally time for the Bond villain to show up. It's Javier Bardem with stupid hair, obviously because someone thought that particular feature was a must for him to perform optimally, like he did in No Country for Old Men. Well, despite the stupid hair and the fact that he's got his lair on an abandoned island for no other reason than to generate nice shots for the DP, he gets a great entrance scene.
They've also made Bardem's character gay, and almost immediately suggest that Bond has had to take a dick or two during his career as a spy. I don't know how to feel about this. Is this done to try to shock the audience a little? To be edgy again, like "ermahgerd! James Bernd is doin a hermasekshal!" It's a funny touch, but it's not really interesting – nor shocking. At all. I'd be just as (or more) interested if Bond had to have sex with a bunch of ugly, horrible women in the line of duty, or – better still – what if Bond himself was a homosexual? Wouldn't that be a more exciting dynamic and say a bit more about what Bond had to sacrifice for Queen and Country? That way, you could still fill the movies with bucket loads of useless, gorgeous women – thus satisfying the straight, male audience - but use the women to accentuate 007's coldness toward them, having to fake emotions and engage with them sexually. I'm a genius.

... well... unless part of the audience would have a problem with cheering for a homosexual James Bond, but that's a ridiculous thought. I know I don't, so why would they?

Almost impossibly: an actor with a bigger head than Daniel Craig.

* But I digress. Where was I? Yes! Bardem! Villain! And then, the stupidest scene in the movie: The bad guy hands 007 a loaded gun (!) in some dumbass game where he and Bond try to shoot a shot glass off some chick's head. There's no reason for Bond not to shoot Bardem in the face and then dispatch of the three useless goons he's got guarding him, but he chooses not to do so, because he's an asshole. Chick dies, Bond dispatches of the three useless goons anyway, and Bardem is captured. I think he is. I can no longer read my notes.

* In the next scene, let's call it the "chatting with the prisoner scene" Skyfall rips off Silence of the Lambs so blatantly that my eyes start to water, and this is also where Javier Bardem detaches part of his face via CGI. It's obvious yet again that Skyfall doesn't quite understand Bond villains and why some of them are freaks. If they are, you have to make their freakiness into a weapon, right? Jaws has metal teeth he can kill people with, that big guy from Live and Let Die has a hook hand he can pinch people with, Xenia Onatopp from Goldeneye has thighs... silky... silky thighs that... squeeze... uh... And Bardem has nothing, that's my point. Face detaches, and there's no face bomb, no laser beam, nothing. Thankfully, the new MI6 base has the worst security in the world, so the villain escapes in no time whatsoever, and that's the end of that sequence, thank you very much.

* Then there's a chase scene, wherein Bardem forgets to close a door behind him. Why? Because otherwise Bond wouldn't be able to find him, and this film would be over. Are you sensing a pattern yet? (No, I'm really not making this up.)

And then we find out that the villain's entire plan is getting M into a courthouse, so he can have a dumbass shootout and kill her. That's it. Wow. It fails, unspectacularly, but for some reason the movie still isn't over, because now we have to go to...

* Skyfall.
What's that? It's Bond's rotten, old, Scottish family manor. No, the title doesn't describe a high-tech spy satellite or a doomsday device or anything exciting, it's just a bloody house. There's even an old dude there who knew Bond when he was a kid. He tells us a story about a time Bond pissed his pants while hiding in the basement, thus adding a backstory to 007 that nobody asked for in the first place.
This is where the movie kinda implodes on itself and turns into a weird Steven Seagal/MacGyver/Predator hybrid, where 007, M and the old-timer use light bulbs, rubber bands and glue to rig everything is the house to explode once the bad guys come for them. And they do come - using the loudest helicopter in the world, so that Bond et al have plenty of time to survive the attack, and then make everything in the house explode, as planned. Super exciting.

* Then the action continues outside, as the trio in the house escape through hidden tunnels and try to get to an old chapel. To get there, they run across the moors, using flashlights so bright, the bad guys have no choice but to see them. More action, shooting and fighting, until they end up in the chapel. There, Bardem and M have some kind of tedious drama scene, until 007 finally knife-throws the bad guy to death like Steven Seagal, and that's the end of that. (M also bleeds to death from a gunshot wound I've completely forgot about, so no more drama from her either.)

The end, basically.

I'm not sure if it's clear in my review, but I kinda liked Skyfall. It's dumber than a bag of hammers, but it's got lots of action, and it's well-made and good-looking.
Can't wait to see how they screw up the next one.