Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)

Ian Fleming’s James Bond is certainly a character of poise – both the embodiment of everything we as males will envy for eternity and unmistakable centerpiece of the longest running franchise in the history of cinema. As the figurative torch has been handed down from one suave, gadget-wielding ladykiller to the next however, modern technology and solid storytelling have very gradually upheld the Bond legacy’s integrity as much as its male lead (mostly) has. With Daniel Craig filling the titular super spy’s shoes for a third consecutive stint, Skyfall‘s screenwriting trio have concocted another wholly original script set in the same universe, forgoing the amiable levity and quirks of Bonds past to instead embrace a hit-or-miss sense of gritty self-importance.

Opening with what could conceivably be the quintessential action set piece of the year, Skyfall‘s no slouch when it comes to matching Casino Royale‘s equally stellar introductory, parkour-laden sequence. Needless to say, the film gets off on the right foot, but as a whole, it all feels like a less gadgety, moreover laboriously drawn out MI6 procedural as it initially focuses on a contrived cyberterrorism subplot. With a first half peculiarly devoid of a memorable villain however, Silva’s (Javier Bardem) reveal rings underwhelming as Bond’s endless efforts to track him finally pay off and strand him on an island.

Granted, there’s the requisite amount of intrigue, suspense and especially hard-PG-13 action to tide you over, but even still, some fat could have definitely been trimmed to transform the production into something much more well-rounded. Barring a slightly overblown latter act, nods to past Bond films feel forced and haphazardly implemented from the girls to the martinis, allowing Skyfall to instead wallow neck-deep in the grimy, nearly snark-free pool of bleak moodiness it jumps into very early on.

As a modern entry into the Bond canon, it’d be hard to argue that Skyfall doesn’t meet most of our expectations. It’s slick, overwhelmingly if somewhat appealingly gritty and chock full of attention-grabbing moments, however it just falls flat in some areas as it trips over its overly ambitious feet. Even though he’s begun to sleepwalk through these roles, Craig still intermittently impresses as Bond once again along with Bardem, Dench and Naomie Harris, allowing the film to continually entertain in spurts as it trudges along through to its grand finale.

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