While Daniel Craig has made for an excellent James Bond, he has shown that he cannot carry the weight of the franchise on his back. While Casino Royale was excellent, Quantum of Solace was horrendous. While the imbalance of action over plot was the main fault of Quantum of Solace, the reverse became the problem for Skyfall.
Bond has never been a character driven franchise. Characters such as Desmond Llewelyn’s Q became fan favorites more because of longevity than any particular film. Exceptions to this include On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, and now Skyfall.
Skyfall brought Judi Dench’s M into the spotlight. Bond’s supporting cast rarely joins the adventure, save for the seldom used Felix Leiter and Q in Octopussy. Judi Dench is a legendary actress and has been playing Bond since the start of Pierce Brosnan’s tenure so it’s not outlandish to expand her role. The potential problem with this lies in the execution.
Bond films follow a fairly simple format. After the often elaborate opening, Bond receives his mission, finds the Bond Girl, gets captured, beats bad guy, and then the credits roll. By keeping the usual supporting characters around longer than normal, you’re tampering with the formula. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in the case of Skyfall it wasn’t really proven as a good thing either.
The casting of Javier Bardem as the villain was met with near universal praise. Bardem, who won an Oscar for his work in No Country for Old Men, is golden in nearly everything he touches. The problem is that in Skyfall, he wasn’t given much to do. His performance is overshadowed by the wasted potential that is the casualty of Skyfall’s inability to focus itself.
Skyfall feels like a film that never really got on track after an entertaining but lengthy opener. It’s okay to break the Bond formula if there’s a plan in place, but Skyfall feels like a series of stop and go vignettes lumped into one movie. For a film that has a run time of two and a half hours, it never really felt like it got itself going.
Skyfall is not a terrible movie. The acting is top notch, powered by Craig, Bardem, Dench, and newcomer Ralph Fiennes. If you’re looking to spend two and a half hours with characters that transcend time itself, than Skyfall might be your movie. Bond films really aren’t about that though.
With a lack of action, gadgets, and seductive women, Skyfall doesn’t feel like a Bond movie. For some that’s a welcomed change. But for those of us who were looking for the series to return to form after Quantam of Solace, Skyfall just doesn’t work.