Coming out, the woman behind me said “That was the best Bond film I've ever seen.”
And if that is the case, you really, really need to see more movies.
Here we are now. Entertain us. Bond#24. Four years after the damp squib that was the incoherent Quantum Of Solace, we return to Craig (possibly with a weave), M, and the gang in the longest (and most competently directed) Bond film in a long time. But the best? Not a chance.
The moments. All movies are made out of moments. Out of 24 frames per second, moving faster than the eye can detect, It opens with Bond and a bad guy on the roofs of Istanbul. Like “The International”. Probably the exact same roof tops.
“Skyfall”'s downfall is that it is sentimental old tosh. The moment where one of the characters reveals their surname is both hackneyed, and cliched. The momentw here Bond reveals a certain familiar form of transportation. Where Bond quotes lines from old movies. Or uncomfortably dispatches yet another quip. We're look at Bond Fucking Bingo here. All these things, present and correct. It's only a matter of time before this expensive advert for watches, beers, cars, cars, diggers, shoes, guns, and fire extinguishers becomes a tedious, sentimental old bore. Its like watching a reformed band with a new singer – who copies the old stage raps – becoming a tribute act to themselves. Comfortably Numb, indeed. In the meantime, there's also an advert for laptops, the British transport system, a beer, a car manufacturer, a news channel, another car manufacturer, a phone manufacturer, a bafflingly unclear plot involving detonation and train crash with no set-up (how bizarre and lacking in explanation), a passengerless commuter train (that makes no sense at all), and a whole bunch of generally illogical, baffling bullshit.
But it has some amazing moments. The long, luxuriously introduction of Silva is worth a pint. The neon backlit orgy of violence, all dancing shilouettes and dying men is as visually arresting as any moment in Blade Runner, and perhaps most of all – the triple-header of recited poetry, a tense courtroom scene, and a closing trap, offers the kind of high, but inevitable tension, that can only be compared to the wordless litany that enraptures superior cinema. But that isn't enough to elevate a mediocre, button-pushing, obseqious script into anything more than a competent actioner.
But where do we start? With Bond fixing his cufflinks whilst a huge piece of machinery explodes behind him? Purfuckinglease. It isn't 1973 anymore. With a shoutback via kimodo dragons to his blaxploitation era? To passing something on and saying “For their eyes only”? To driving an immaculate Aston Martin as if it were boxfresh 50 years after production? To the lame quips and the merciless quoting back to previous glories? Where you can actually see Daniel Craig's soul wince in agony as they try to recapture the unnecessary oneliners that made Roger Moore (named after your father, of course), as threatening as a loaf of bread. I can see where this franchise is going, and it isn't a pretty place. Remember the squandered promise of “Goldeneye” and consider that and consider where that ended up, with invisible cars and diamond faces? Well, that's where we are going : with impossible plots and hackneyed bullshit bollocks. And I know, despite the impact of the Bourne films, and the modern action movie trope is knackered, that it is not the age of the laughably silly Bond, dressing as a crocodile submarine and chasing a fancy golden Egg.
Is Craig the best Bond? Well, he's the second best : behind Dalton. Just ahead of Connery. But this is a mediocre film. Not only it result in Bond's first ever F-Bomb (thanks a bundle), but the ending is the kind of gritty, dullard firefight that falls from a typical Idiot protagonist, and a imeblic sidekick who frankly, deserves to have his brains splatter the pavement like some kind of living, breathing artwork. After all, who, in their right mind, when being attacked by 17 homicidal maniacs with helicopters and a shitfuckington of weaponry, wanders around in the dark with a flashlight to see the lay of the land that they have lived in for the past forty years? A fucking idiot. That's who.
Hey, if its good enough for 007, a bit of a swear is good enough for me. The whole film is a hollow bell, banging loud, and – whilst exploring the nature of, and the issue of, the consequences of history – is also wholly in love with Bond's own history, without grace. I half expected Little Nell to turn up at some point, even though she was obselete half a century ago. These references and call backs are unnecessary, insulting even. Why can't Bond stay true to the spirit of the films instead of becoming a tribute act to himself?
It may sound as if I hate this film. Not at all, its far smarter than most films that ever threaten your local cineplex. And is two-thirds brilliant, but lacking in the final killer spark : a script that has been scrutinised for stupidity, and stripped of blatant homages to itself. “Skyfall” is good – but that is not simply good enough when it comes to Bond.