December 30, 2012

MOVIES: Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)

What do you need to know about Skyfall? Not much, beyond the fact that it's a Bond movie. Yeah, it's a fairly good Bond movie, as such things go, but it's just as painfully misogynistic as the series has always been, and (with one striking exception) the characters are as flat and uninteresting as ever.

Daniel Craig's limited talents are perfect for the role of Bond; the character is supposed to be stoic, so the immobility of Craig's angular wood-block face doesn't do too much damage. Javier Bardem is the principal bad guy, and he has apparently taken the lesson from his work in No Country for Old Men that a bad haircut is a substitute for actually playing a character.

Judi Dench gives the movie's only real performance as M, and she's delightful, bringing to the role an emotional truth and complexity that are neither required nor deserved by so otherwise dull a movie. Noemie Harris has some appealing moments as one of Bond's spy colleagues, but she's undercut by Bond's inability to treat any woman under the age of 50 as a human being instead of as a sex object, and by a final punchline about her identity.

The best thing in the movie is Roger Deakins' cinematography, which is absolutely gorgeous; the sequence set in Singapore is particularly impressive.

If the shallow characters and empty sexism of Bond movies are your cup of tea, you'll no doubt enjoy this very much. But all of the hype proclaiming that this is a good movie even when judged against non-Bond movies is wildly undeserved.

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