I am not a huge fan of Daniel Craig’s James Bond—I prefer Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton—though with “Skyfall” not only will he gain busloads of fans but those that count themselves among the true believers will be ecstatic.
I have always had an on-off relationship with James Bond. The Sean Connery Bond films were OK, but his typically British reserve generally left me a bit cold. I tended to enjoy Roger Moore’s Bond more, if only because he didn’t tend to take things too seriously (though this was countered by the fact that he was in the role much longer than he should have been, and it eventually showed).
I think that Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan’s interpretations were two of the best, mainly because they attempted to humanize the character, and in their hands Bond became less a walking personification of libido than something approaching three-dimensionality.
Daniel Craig replaced Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2006’s “Casino Royale” followed by 2008’s “Quantum Of Solace.” The problem with the two films, despite being well received at the box office–though ’Solace’ underperformed domestically–was that neither film was truly memorable, a point made clear when I tried to recall details about either film during a conversation I had before “Skyfall” began.
I drew a blank in the case of both films, though I could easily remember details and characters from earlier movies. Part of this is because a hallmark of past James Bond films were the villains and neither ‘Royale’ or ’Solace’ had any worth remembering.
Daniel Craig’s Bond also came on the heels of the Jason Bourne series of films, and he just as quickly appropriated the gritty style and rapid action, a hallmark of those films. As a result, James Bond had become derivative, dated, and just a bit passé.
“Skyfall,” I am glad to say, is not only as good as some critics say it is, but its the first Bond film that’s a true bridge from from the earlier Bond, to today’s. It brings the character gracefully into the 21st century and thankfully takes itself seriously, though not seriously enough that it becomes as murky, as plodding as “Quantum Of Solace.”
The stunts are great–the opening takes an established trope, the motorcycle chase, and uses it in new and interesting ways (a shout-out should to Tom Tykwer’s “The International,” which uses a location that plays a significant role in the scene), though “Skyfall” soars because it doesn’t always take itself so seriously, and trusts the audience enough to ask us to go along.