Over the weekend, courtesy of Amazon Prime, I watched the most recent James Bond movie, "Skyfall." The critics seemed to have loved this flick, with a number of them saying it was the best Bond movie ever.
I don't get it.
First of all, at the most superficial level, Daniel Craig, while a fine actor, looks like an Eastern European villain, not James Bond.
See what I mean? The one on the bottom is Robert Shaw as a Russian assassin in "From Russia With Love." Looks like he could be brothers with Daniel Craig.
Second, what happened to James Bond's personality? Bond is about cheesy one-liners tossed out as he womanizes and as he beats up/kills bad guys. Remember Sean Connery throwing a thug into a bathtub full of water, then chucking in an electric fan, and following it up with a deadpan, "Shocking, positively shocking"? That's James Bond!
Instead, the producers and Craig seem to have morphed Bond into a British version of another JB, namely, Jason Bourne. Bond is dour, serious, grim, and seems to have some emotional demons to deal with. As the Bourne movies have demonstrated, this kind of realistic espionage/action approach can work really well.
But . . . if you're going to have that element of realism, the rest of the movie should be realistic as well. Instead, "Skyfall" has remnants of the James Bond motiff, most notable, Craig going around in a suit and tie for most of the movie. In fact, at one point, he sprints at top speed in wingtips, tie, and suit!! Now I realize that I am far from the physical specimen that a trained MI-6 agent is, but I just don't see running at top speed in that get-up.
And then, when you stop to think about the villain's machinations [SPOILERS] . . . well, it doesn't make any sense at all. He's able to cyber-hack into MI-6's computer systems so effectively that he can cause the building to blow itself up. He waits until he knows that M won't be there. Okay . . . he's after something else then. Yet, his ultimate plan is to let himself be captured so he can let the new Q try to hack his computer, which will only unleash a counterhack so he can take over the MI-6 computers and release the Hannibal Lecter-cage-like cell he's in, so that he can escape and try to kill M????
And having saved M temporarily, Bond's grand plan is to use her as bait to ensnare the villain. Sounds great. Lure him to some remote location and spring a bunch of bad-ass SAS troops on him, right?
No. Bond, the caretaker for his once grand estate (Skyfall), and M are going to fight off the villain and his troops by themselves. Okaaaaaayy.
To be fair, Bond was not entirely recovered yet from his earlier wounds, so perhaps we can forgive him as simply being not anywhere near peak performance. But why would M go along with such an obviously deficient plan? Oh, because she says that no one else should be put at risk because of her past mistakes.
You know what keeps risks down? How about dealing with this super-scary, super-competent villain with OVERWHELMING FORCE, rather than risk being defeated by him and setting him loose to commit more mayhem on the rest of the world???
Now obviously I could nitpick pretty much every single Bond movie of the past and find such ridiculousness. (Well, maybe not "Goldfinger," which remains in my view the perfect Bond movie.) But those movies didn't pretend to be serious. From the outrageously named female characters to the fantastic world domination plots to the sci-fi gadgets, they were essentially espionage fantasies. "Skyfall" wanted to have it both ways, and I think it failed for that reason.