Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Dark Knight is Home Alone

Skyfall: written by Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan; based on characters created by Ian Fleming; directed by Sam Mendes; starring Daniel Craig (James Bond), Judi Dench (M), Javier Bardem (Silva), Ralph Fiennes (Gareth Mallory), Naomie Harris (Eve), Berenice Marlohe (Severine), Albert Finney (Kincade), and Ben Whishaw (Q) (2012): The new 007 is certainly enjoyable, though it also imparts a sense of deja vu...for Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Javier Bardem's Silva is the most Joker-like of all Bond movie villains, ever, and even turns out to have a horrifying smile hidden behind dentures. He's all dyed-blonde, giggly, sexually ambiguous menace.

A very convoluted plot starts off like the non-canonical Never Say Never Again, with an aging Bond running into trouble in the field, and ends up like Home Alone, with Bond, M, and Alfred the Butler....errrr, Kincade the Groundskeeper...fixing up Bond's abandoned boyhood home so as to hold off an army of terrorists bent on killing Judi Dench's M. In between, Bond does battle in a Shanghai skyscraper that seems to have beamed in from Blade Runner; in a Macau gambling den complete with its own pair of Komodo dragons; and on a deserted island stronghold right out of Life After People.

Craig is taciturn and business-like as usual, certainly the closest thing to Ian Fleming's original secret agent of the novels. The occasional quips fall like lead balloons in certain places: there's no way to interpret Bond's "waste of good Scotch" quip after a woman's death as anything other than dismayingly misogynistic, one of those moments in which the 'deadly jolite' of the Bond film (thanks, Michael Moorcock) is about as unfunny as a blockbuster can get.

Many action sequences occur on trains, above trains, in subways, on desolate Scottish moors, and underwater. Very few gadgets appear, though a new, young, sarcastic Q does appear. It all moves very quickly for its nearly 2-1/2 hour length, though like most modern action movies, its climax goes on forever. And if you're going to set your climax in an abandoned church, you're going to have to live with somewhat unfair comparisons to John Woo's masterful The Killer. Recommended.

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