Skyfall ★★★½

Where Quantum of Solace is widely considered a lesser Bond, Skyfall is lauded as perhaps the franchise’s best and among the few that rises to the level of Oscar-worthy prestige. I share neither of these opinions. In fact, I think Skyfall generally overrated, a feeling confirmed upon this rewatch. That is not to suggest it’s a weak film; it’s pretty entertaining, just not one I’m convinced is worthy of its rather gushing accolades. 

To be sure, much of it is excellent. The opening action scene is among the very best in the franchise. It’s visually stunning, owing much to Roger Deakins camerawork and compositions. The introductions of Moneypenny, Q and the future M are clever and well-considered in context of the reimagined Bond and successfully bring Daniel Craig’s 007 fully into the necessary trappings of what make a Bond movie a Bond movie. The cast really is great here, and Judi Dench, in particular, finally gets her due as the gradual centering of her character in the new era reaches its apotheosis. The climax is quite suspenseful even if it does feel like it’s for a completely different film.*

That said, I’m not sure the plot here holds up to much scrutiny. That isn’t really an issue for the more fantastical Bond installments, but when you’re going for something this personal, realistic and thematic it kind of helps if things make sense. And so while Javier Bardem has a great Bond villain flair, I don’t find his character particularly scary or diabolical, which is, I think, the intention. He’s supposed to be a Bond mirror but he mostly comes across as no more threatening or ingenious than the typical adversary because his menace all relies on absurd plot mechanics that are completely inessential to his ploy but I suppose necessary for the action. Frankly, a movie, Bond or otherwise, that strives for depth and profundity can’t have central plot elements this dumb.

*I admittedly still don’t totally get Bond’s back story or why I’m really supposed to care about it much. And I really can’t figure how it plays into this film other than to serve a home invasion action set piece.