Thursday, 15 November 2012

Junk Bond Trade Up

A few days ago, Eyewear's film critic offered yet another rave review of the new Bond film, Skyfall.  I duly posted it, because I respect my critic's film-making expertise, and he is the film critic here.  But I too have opinions, and, on reflection, have to say I think the 50 year Bond has not matured well.  I saw the movie on its release in Montreal, on an IMAX screen, with my mother, my wife, and a dear old friend.  I was in a great mood.  I wanted to love this movie.  The first film I ever saw on the silver screen was a Bond - Diamonds Are Forever, which my mother had brought me to.  It remains a formative experience of my life (likely for good and ill - I don't want to be cremated, for instance).  My problems with the film are many.  My first issue with it is, it is stuck in a homage/reboot rut.  Bond is eternal - there is no need to constantly explain why he is contemporary - as with Dr. Who, just update and get on with the adventure.  I feel that while the stylish look of the film makes it the most beautiful Bond to gaze at, the over-poetic, over-dramatic arty tropes (Tennyson, Turner) were over-egging.  The last act was more Wuthering Heights with a madman on the heath, than anything else, with a dash of Apocalypse Now.  The villain was a poor mix of the Jaws character, the recent Joker, and Lecter - and we have done the double agent often before, as well as M in peril before (several times).  The idea that M was a great character was born because Dench is a great actor - M was always a cypher.  The attempt to enrich the Bond backstory with adoption, dead parents, etc, was a mere Harry Pottering - indeed, his Skyfall home is a sort of ruined Hogwarts.  I should add that the clever inversion at the end (for once, Bond destroys his own lair) is more witty on paper than on film, where it becomes a bit counter-productive, and certainly less dramatic.  The villain, in this case, is a smarmy bisexual hacker with a Mummy Complex, though his sexual cruelty, obsession with rats, tooth decay, and genius for hacking are never linked or really employed to coherent effect. Most Bond villains are charismatic, foreign, rich, powerful, egomaniacal, sexual, physically strange and sadistic, like Goldfinger - the Other to Bond, so this time, the idea he is a mirror of the broken Bond is a meet cute gone dark - but where is the masterplan?  The global peril?  All Bardem wants to do is sow some chaos in London to draw out and kill M.  His effortless ability to hire cops as killers, and blow up tube stations, is never explained, and, at any rate, his plan succeeds as M dies - is this Chinatown, James?  And, Potter's nemesis becomes the new M.  M for muggle.
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