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MOVIE REVIEW: Welcome Back 007 – “Skyfall” Brings Bond Home

Yes, that is the Outlaw laying on well-worn theater carpet. Oh the things I do for you guys…

 

“Outlaw… Geek Outlaw.”

 

If you haven’t ever thought about introducing yourself with the infamous “Bond… James Bond” catch phrase using a debonair British accent while simultaneously holding a martini, then you my friend are either not a geek or a flat out teller of non-truths.

 

Speaking of the notoriously suave intro, is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that for someone whom is employed by a super-secret classified branch of the government, the testosterone riddled agent seems very trigger happy when handing out his name to just about anyone who asks.

 

“Say it just ONE more time…”

 

Mysteries of life aside, unfortunately the closest I get to repeating the above mentioned catch phrase is when I talk to my good friend Paul Bond (no relation to James), who is actually very much a doppelganger of the secret agent in that they both like Martinis.  I know, the similarities are striking.

 

Alas, I didn’t get a chance to see the latest Bond flick with my friend Mr. Bond; however, I was fortunate enough to see the movie with my best friend’s mother, whom just so happens to be from England and is a fairly big 007 fan as well.  (Although finding a native of Britain who doesn’t enjoy Bond movies is akin to finding a Kardashian that doesn’t enjoy attention.)

 

With my Bond-loving English friend Donna. (Also,in case you haven’t noticed, apparently I enjoy making fake gun poses with my hands.)

 

Being that this is my first foray into the Bond universe since starting the blog, I will provide some background as to my own preferences and thoughts on the franchise as I have experienced it thus far.

 

At the risk of having every Bond fan in existence put a bounty on my head, I’m more than comfortable admitting that my favorite 007 was none other than Remington Steel star, Pierce Brosnan.  Of course, much of that has to do with the fact, they were the Bond movies I personally grew up with.

 

“Stop, or my Bond will shoot!”

 

Yes, Connery was a classic; however, Brosnan helped to bring Bond back from the grave and into the 21st century.  His movies also included heavy doses of everything Bond is known for: girls, gadgets, and gears (aka cars).  More on him later though…

 

Now enter Daniel Craig, and enter my disappointment.  The first two films with Craig as the new 007 – in this humble outlaw’s opinion should it matter – were long, dark, confusing, and overly complicated wastes of time.  Bond’s Casino Royale reboot went the route of the Dark Knight (as many other heroes went after Nolan’s successful rebirthing of that franchise), but for Bond – and myself – it just didn’t work.

 

This one is for the ladies… and all others who’d like to drool.
James, why so serious all the time?

Craig is definitely a broodier, grittier, and more serious version of the secret agent that also spends more time using his fists than his charm and wits.  In addition, many of the consistent elements from previous Bond films (Ex: Q, Moneypenny, humor, scandalous sex with every women 007 meets) had been thrown out the door in exchange for a more ‘realistic’ MI6 employee.

 

That brings us (finally!) to Craig’s latest installment of 007, Skyfall, which was just recently released to the big screen.

 

I’m just going to get it out of the way now, this was BY FAR Craig’s best Bond installment and I’m even going to go as far as say it ranks up there as one of the most entertaining 007 movies of recent memory (which might not be saying much if we are referring to my own).

 

A trailer worth it’s weight in Martinis

 

I’m not going to get into plot at all, since it would take me the better part of my hard drive and the next two decades to type out.  However, fittingly enough, part of the story deals with Bond making a comeback; which fits the theme of all the things that came back to make this Craig’s best installment of the MI6 agent thus far.

 

With that, here are the top 007 reasons I’m welcoming back Daniel Craig as “Bond… James, Bond”:

(NOTE:  – MINOR SPOILER ALERTS BELOW)

 

 

 

1)      Welcome back Humor & Wit

One of the funniest running bits of the movie… it will make sense when you see it.

 

In exchange for a more serious Bond, it seemed that humor and charm were left on the cutting room floor.  Any action movie, especially a Bond flick, needs SOME levity every now and again.  Luckily, Craig’s 007 has loosened up this go around, and gets in his fair share of one-liners.  Dare I say you even see him crack a smile once or twice?

 

 

 

2)      Welcome back Q

Q = Quartermaster. Desmond Llewelyn minus the charm and gadgets… for now.

 

One of the most obvious and disappointing omissions from the first two Craig movies was Q.  While the last Q (John Cleese) was a bit too over-the-top silly, I sorely missed the days of Desmond Llewelyn (RIP 1999).  Being the Q for 17 Bond movies, I always looked forward to his introduction of the latest toys and exchange of barbs with Bond.  I’m not sure about the new, young, head-strong Q (Ben Whishaw) yet, but at least he is there and that’s a start.

 

 

 

3)      Welcome back Moneypenny

Ms. MP is a tad more active than the pen-wielding secretary version of yore.

 

Another character of Bond lore, Ms. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) is back as the attractive assistant to M.  Along with her return is the return of the infamous sexual tension with our hero.  I can’t say her absence the last two movies bothered me, but along with the new Q, her presence in Skyfall provided that warm fuzzy nostalgic feeling that the Bond universe was righting itself again… especially with the timing and way her identity is revealed.

 

 

 

4)      Welcome back Theme Song

 

While in theory the original 007 theme song is always a part of a Bond movie in some way shape or form, recently it felt like it was used sparingly or not used in its full grandeur.  I’m happy to report that not only is it back, but the classic version is fine-tuned for HD surround and used in all it’s semi-unedited glory.  Additionally, it’s not overused and its timing is also appropriate. (FUN FACT: The Bond theme was originally written by Monty Norman and arranged by John Barry.)

 

 

 

5)      Welcome back Aston

Truly a thing of beauty… the car, not the Bond.

 

Speaking of timing, I bet you can guess when the classic theme song was played.  If you guessed when Bond’s vintage – and I’m not kidding when I use the word vintage – Aston Martin is revealed, then you would win a prize if I had any sort of budget to give prizes for no reason.  Not only that, his Aston is also “fully loaded,” but I’m not going to ruin the surprise there.

 

 

 

6)      Welcome back Ladies

“The name is… uhhh… anything you want it to be.”

 

Like the theme song, while the drop-dead gorgeous female DNA has always been a component of past films, the last few Craig movies (especially Royale where Bond was in love, pfft) haven’t been memorable in that department.  While I don’t expect Bond to be a one-man escort service, it was nice to see him charm the pants off some beautiful ladies at will again.  The lady in red above is the drop-dead B-E-A-utiful Severine (played by Bérénice Marlohe).

 

 

 

7)      Welcome home… Kinkade

Imagine Groundskeeper Willie with gray hair and Bond attitude.

 

At some point during the movie, we actually delve a bit into Bond’s childhood and visit his childhood digs, which is a first for a 007 film, per my English friend.  This aspect really brought a more personal side to Bond that actually helped me to relate to MI6 superman, specifically Craig’s version of it.

 

If that weren’t enough, we are treated to the introduction of Kinkade (played by Albert Finney), who is the surely but caring old groundskeeper of the aging Bond residence.  Kinkade’s gruff yet lovable personality fills part of the void left by Desmond Llewelyn’s father-like Q character from the Brosnan series.

 

R.I.P.(1999) Mr. Llewelyn, you will be missed always.

 

For all 007 reasons outlined above, this was indeed the best (and as you can tell) my favorite Daniel Craig entry to the Bond series yet.  How does it stack up to the others?  As will always be the case, that just depends on whom your personal Bond of preference is.  As I put my reputation – and possibly my life – on the line earlier, for me that is Mr. Brosnan.

 

A semi-oldie, but a goodie.

 

Being a tech geek – and more importantly a guy – I loved Q with his sophisticated gadgetry, the fancy new model BMWs, the multitude of incredibly modelesque women that I could never get, and the liberal use of the theme song which I personally never tire of.  Most importantly, Brosnan played the part in a mold that – for the most part – best represented agent 007, per Ian Fleming’s own vision of the character – an ass-kicking ladies’ man with a cool-calm collected demeanor and a witty personality.

 

Regardless of whom your favorite Bond actor may be, I can honestly say that the character of Bond as we all know and love is back… for the most part.  With that I highly recommend Skyfall… shaken, not stirred.

 

“Guess who’s back… Bond is back…”

 

Welcome back 007.

 

 

 

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