I had a great time with this movie. As an action film, it’s good. As a James Bond film, it’s great. Unlike Quantum of Solace and, to a lesser degree, Casino Royale, Skyfall actually feels like a classic James Bond movie. It’s been said elsewhere that this film, taken with the previous two, can be seen as an origin story for our hero. I think that’s spot on. The trilogy, throughout which Bond feels kind of off when compared to classic Bond, shows us how the character we all know and love comes to be. In this way, as MovieBob says, the movie makes the previous two better – it gives them context. All of this is rather the point of Skyfall. The entire film is an attempt to justify bringing a classic James Bond back into the modern world and the modern box office.
And boy, does it succeed.
Minor spoilers below (nothing major, but I’ll put up the warning just in case):
The entire first act of the film explicitly deals with whether Bond, as a relic of the old school of spycraft (“wetwork” as opposed to hacking and drones), is suited to the modern world of terrorists and transparent government. Of course the film’s answer is yes – the old ways wedded to modern techniques are exactly what are called for. Bond is still relevant.
And that’s the larger theme: the movie is justifying its own existence. Does the sort of old-fashioned, Cold War action hero exemplified by James Bond still have relevance today? Does this kind of movie still make sense? Should you, the moviegoer, be interested enough to pay to see this sort of thing?
Of course you know what the movie’s answer is going to be.
Throughout the entire film, we get call-backs to classic Bond films, transplanted into the modern world to see if they still fit (they do). And old-school Bond himself, depicted as washed up and obsolete, is pitted against a modern villain who has abandoned those techniques and adopted modern cyber-terrorism (Bond wins – no surprise).
It may seem a little heavy-handed, especially in the first half of the film, but it works. And there are subtleties – from the suit Bond wears to the art hanging on the walls, everything plays into the main theme: this old warhorse of ours, this old-fashioned hero, he’s still relevant. This sort of thing still makes sense in the modern world. You should feel good about giving us money to see it.
And by god, they manage to make the whole thing work.
Also, if you’re a James Bond fan of any stripe and the last five minutes of the film don’t have you grinning ear-to-ear… well. I don’t know what to say. You really should be grinning.
All in all, this is a pretty darn good movie. So good that it actually makes the previous one make more sense. Yeah – how about that?
Go ahead and see it. You know you want to anyway.