If you wait too long, you lose the impression.
I was way behind on trying to support my compatriots. It is not necessary to agree. What I champion is freedom of expression.
And so we try to remember the mood…the efficacy of cinema in the hands of Sam Mendes.
Perhaps the first “real” director to approach the Bond franchise after having had success beforehand.
Mendes will always have a place in my heart for his deft touch directing Thora Birch in American Beauty.
Fortunately we can look forward to a second contribution in the forthcoming Bond film Spectre.
But for now we have this.
What of it?
I should dispense with self-congratulatory pomp at this time rather than let it distract me.
Yes, I have now seen all of the Bond films from Eon Productions. You can access the reviews of all 23 pictures here on my site by clicking the Bond tab.
Now that we have that out of the way…
The first glaring bit of strategic signaling occurs when we learn that our MacGuffin is a hard drive.
Of course, it’s what’s on the hard drive which makes this worth mentioning.
NATO agents embedded in terrorist groups.
For anyone with a knowledge of Operation Gladio this brings up a troubling association.
To wit: the possibility that the organizations are controlled by NATO for cynical purposes.
This was, and continues to be, a fundamental aspect of geopolitics. False-flag terror.
Perhaps Mendes (or the writers of the film) knowingly left this bread crumb to add a quasi-credibility to what has often become a propagandistic series for the power elite.
Whatever the case may be, the opening sequence is generally good.
Let’s face it: it’s getting harder and harder after 23 films to have James Bond do something novel.
His seeming demise before the credits roll make us think of that horribly daft episode from the Connery days:
You Only Live Twice.
Ralph Fiennes is unlikable from the start, but we learn why as the film progresses.
Mendes does a nice job of faking us out on several occasions. We even suspect Bond as a terrorist briefly.
Another breadcrumb: the depleted uranium bullet fragments from Bond’s shoulder.
With this we are brought back to that stain upon U.S. military operations over the past 15 years.
Keeping in mind the research of Doug Rokke, we might again be seeing an attempt by the Bond franchise to relate with an increasingly informed viewer base.
Think on your sins?
Well, all cinematic sins are forgiven once director Mendes has occasion to mold and shape the lights of high-rise Shanghai into a sci-fi backdrop for good old fashion ass kicking.
We are meant to associate the extra-terrestrial eyes with Bérénice Marlohe. Like the grey-eyed goddess Athena, we will later meet her in the shower (ohh-la-la!).
When all else fails in a film, have the location shift to Macau.
Indeed, the best dialogue comes between Daniel Craig and Mlle. Marlohe at the casino bar. It reminds us of that fleeting bit of verbal mastery aboard the train in Casino Royale when Craig and Eva Green took turns sizing each other up.
Enter Javier Bardem.
Bardem is certainly among the most convincing villains in the entire Bond pantheon. Something about that bleached-blond hair gives us a creepy feeling every time his character Raoul Silva is shown.
Bardem’s acting, particularly around the time of his character’s first appearance, is world-class.
Ben Whishaw does a fine job as the new Q (though we miss John Cleese and, of course, Desmond Llewelyn).
Credit Sam Mendes with a deft portrayal of the battle between old ways and new.
New is exemplified by the new Q: cyber-reliance.
Old is exemplified by the crusty James Bond: HUMINT.
This film almost telegraphs the Zeitgeist which would spawn Edward Snowden as global hero, but it casts such genius (>145 IQ) as the enemy in Bardem’s character.
[As a side note, I should like to add that Snowden’s story would have to be most ingenious cover ever if found to be inauthentic. Such iron-clad credibility no doubt came at a steep price for the NSA (see PRISM). Though farfetched, one never knows to what lengths the Western national security state will go next to try and salvage its tenuous hold on global hegemony. All things considered, his defection to the public side (in the interest of the general public) seems to be authentic and highly admirable.]
Skyfall becomes less successful when Bardem has Hannibal Lecter lighting cast upon him during the glass-cage treatment later in this film. This is an unimaginative bit of filmmaking beneath the level of director Mendes.
As trivial as it may seem, Mendes later redeems himself with a simple shot of approaching figures reflected in the chrome of a side-view mirror. It doesn’t hurt that the mirror in question is attached to an Aston Martin DB5.
Overall, the successes of this film should rightly be attributed to Sam Mendes. That said, this is not a masterpiece. It is a very good, yet flawed, film.
Here’s hoping Mendes knocks it out of the park with Spectre. Cheerio!