The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 3, 2012

‘Skyfall:’ The best Bond ever?

By Roger Thomas for the SNAP
SNAP

Sunday, December 2, 2012 — There is an old saying: “Whoever you first see as James Bond will be your favorite Bond for life.” Mine was Roger Moore and the film was “Live and Let Die;” I saw it at the Capri Theater in my hometown of Gaffney, S.C. when I was 10 years old.

For a long time Moore was my favorite Bond. Then one day I realized that Sean Connery was a better actor. Lazenby, Dalton or Brosnan never really impressed me. I found most of Dalton and Brosnan’s films to be weak. And then came Daniel Craig. All three of his Bond films have been outstanding; I even liked the much maligned “Quantum of Solace.” Craig was not my first Bond and will hopefully not be my last (I hope I live long enough to see two or three more Bonds at least), but at this moment, Craig has surpassed Connery and is now my favorite Bond. Craig’s three adventures have been the most serious Bond films and in many ways the smartest. I hope Craig will keep the role for at least one or two more films.

With that said, I will acknowledge that I liked “Skyfall” a great deal. It is one of my favorite Bond films, but I am not sure I would agree with Roger Moore. I have heard that Roger Moore has called “Skyfall” the greatest James Bond film ever. Though it is quite good, I have hesitations about making such a bold declaration.

Recognizing that it is an outstanding film, allow me to offer my few reservations.

First, I think the opening 45 minutes and the last 45 minutes are stronger than the middle hour of this two and a half  hour film. Once the villain Silva, played devilishly by Oscar-winning Javier Bardem, shows up, I think the film lags a little bit. First there is the whole monaloguing bit. Anyone who has seen “The Incredibles” knows that villains should never give long speeches. An action film has turned into a film of words, and the momentum of the plot has slowed.

Second, there are situations and set pieces that seem all too familiar. Audiences have seen prisoners escape from those transparent cells and they are expecting it when the movie still has an hour left before the credits. The slower pace and the predictability of the plot are what limits the middle section, in an otherwise nearly perfect film.

However, after a very dramatic event that was a complete surprise to me, the film finds its groove once more and the climax is incredible. Both the mixing of Bond family history and tense action makes this perhaps the best Bond ending ever. When I left the theater, I felt satisfied, an experience I never had during the Brosnan era.

There are also minor things that enhanced the film. I liked the fact that Craig’s Bond had gadgets for the first time. I was glad that the villain’s plan was fully explained. Too often in recent Bond films it did not seem clear what the bad guy really wanted to accomplish. Also, Craig was backed up with a great supporting cast with Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris and Albert Finney.  

And finally, though Craig’s films have been more serious than other Bond movies, there was the right amount of humor here.

Sam Mendes, one of my favorite directors, directed “Skyfall.” He won an Oscar for Best Director for “American Beauty” and has also made such films as “Jarhead,” “Road to Perdition,” “Revolutionary Road” and a small gem about parenting entitled “Away We Go.” I hope Mendes signs up for the next Bond film, because in the end, in spite of its flaws, “Skyfall,” with my favorite Bond Daniel Craig, is a truly remarkable addition to the Bond legacy.