Skyfail Pt. II
By the end of Skyfall, my brow had more wrinkles than Dame Judi Dench’s neck flaps.
What differentiates Bond from a Bourne, Transporter, or Mission Impossible movie? The gadgets, the women, and the villain—all of which Skyfall lacked. Of course there are a few other trademarks as well, but I should hope that no one watches Bond just for the bad puns.
Skyfall’s running theme is a sort of defense for the “old ways.” This could have been a brilliant opportunity to return to the classic exploding pen and Rolex laser, or showcase the flaws of the “new ways” with a faulty cufflink taser or retina camera. Instead, the entire theme is used as a copout for not including any gadgets at all.
And yet, the majority of the entire movie’s plot rests on advanced and unbelievable technical hacking skills. The film can’t decide if MI6 is old school or cutting edge, and as a result Bond is left with nothing but a rapidly diminishing skill-set and an underused tux to keep him classy and competitive.
Bond Girl Bérénice Marlohe, as Sévérine, may be the most underrated actor in the film. She exudes an intoxicating combination of erotic ambition for power and complete apathy for life out of resignation to Silva, her overlord—all with just some sneering lips, flickering eyes, and a trembling hand. She’s even given a backstory. When I first saw her I thought, “Finally, a Bond Girl with more than one layer to her character.”
And then she disappears; and who does Daniel Craig run around with for the next hour? Dame Judi Dench (insert shudder here). The roles should have, and easily could have, been completely reversed.
Silva: the bisexual computer genius, Arian/Asian MI6 agent gone bad. Despite Bond’s claim to already know everything about fear, Sévérine warns him, “Not like this.” After the whipping that Le Chifre gave Bond in Casino Royale (when every man in the theatre crossed his legs and winced), my mind is racing to comprehend the evil of Silva’s character that is apparently so incomparable.
To Javier Bardem’s credit, Silva does have some memorable moments—three actually—but all of these fail to shake, or even stir, Bond in any way. Indeed the spotlight on Bardem’s still-excellent performance is stolen by explosions and pyrotechnics. He’s given relatively little screen time and even less character development; it is only at the very end of the film that we really begin to see the oedipal nature of his psychopathy.
The first half of Skyfall promises all the glamour and terror of a classic Bond film, but quickly devolves into a gritty reboot of Home Alone. Oh, but Adele was great.