Bond down to the ba­sics

Lat­est 007 gets the se­ries back on track

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Sky­fall Star­ring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bar­dem, Ralph Fi­ennes, Naomie Har­ris, Berenice Mar­lohe, Al­bert Fin­ney and Ben Whishaw. Screen­play by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Lo­gan, di­rected by Sam Men­des. 143 min­utes, rated M (vi­o­lence), show­ing at Read­ing Porirua and Light House Pau­ata­hanui cinemas. So Mr Bond, it would seem all you needed was less clut­ter and more di­rec­tion in your life.

The gen­eral con­sen­sus among film crit­ics is that Sky­fall is the best Bond movie this side of Sean Con­nery (not in­clud­ing Never Say Never Again of course) and I will em­phat­i­cally join the cho­rus.

Sure, Daniel Craig had al­ready got many of us back on side with Casino Royale, which saw 007 re­mod­elled as a grim­mer, more com­pli­cated se­cret agent for our times.

Where Pierce Bros­nan was play­ful, Craig was petu­lant.

But for all of Bond’s quiet cool and the fran­chise’s ex­otic mythol­ogy of lovely lo­cales and ladies, Quantum of So­lace was as much a noisy, bloated hog as any 007 pic­ture in the past 40 years.

Sky­fall doesn’t just get the se­ries back on track, it mines the essence of what first made the char­ac­ter com­pelling and builds on it.

Its story is rel­a­tively sim­ple, its tone ur­gent and its characters’ motivations pri­mal and pure.

Much of this can be at­trib­uted to di­rec­tor Sam Men­des ( Amer­i­can Beauty, Road to Perdi­tion, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Road), who – as in most of his films – keeps the fo­cus on re­la­tion­ships: Bond and his ma­tri­ar­chal MI6 em­ployer M (Judi Dench), and M and Silva (Javier Bar­dem), a ma­ni­a­cal former agent whose cy­ber-ter­ror­ism pro­vides Sky­fall with much of its nar­ra­tive thrust. The oblig­a­tory Bond-isms are still present, but one gets the feel­ing Men­des tries to dis­pense with much of the bag­gage in the first 30 min­utes.

For some fans what fol­lows may taste like a drier martini, but for movie- go­ers ag­i­tated by far­fetched car chases and prod­uct place­ment, it’s pleas­ing to get past the silly stuff and en­joy a qual­ity ac­tion movie full of grit, cun­ning and – in the case of a fight scene played out against a neon Shang­hai sky­line – ex­quis­ite beauty.

Sky­fall has an en­ter­tain­ing story, a wicked bad guy and a Bond girl worth car­ing about. It also moves the fran­chise for­ward in terms of bol­ster­ing Bond’s sup­port­ing play­ers (Ben Whishaw as Q, Ralph Fi­ennes, Naomie Har­ris). If only all Bond movies did this.

Muck­ing in: Film-maker Sam Men­des has brought a wel­come level of grit to 007, Sky­fall be­ing the best Bond this side of Sean Con­nery.

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