'Skyfall' Review: Sensitive Bond Betrays Franchise's Core Values

With "Skyfall," the transformation of James Bond from the steely womanizer of the old Ian Fleming spy novels and the early Sean Connery movies is complete.

Reinvigorated six years ago in the wake of the first two "Bourne" films, with dour Daniel Craig stepping into the role, Bond is now a thoroughly modern hero, his emotional vulnerabilities here rounded out with mortal concerns and even mommy issues. This may be a shrewd market calculation in a relentlessly sensitive age, but it undercuts the preposterous fun of the Bond world—which had grown too preposterous over the years, it’s true, but is nevertheless missed in its complete absence.

And since the Bond character is at this point one of many in the cinematic action pantheon, it doesn’t help that he’s now been put into the hands of Sam Mendes, who is not an action director. Mendes, deservedly esteemed for movies like "American Beauty" and "Revolutionary Road," seems tantalized by a kind of complicatedly choreographed pandemonium with which we’re already familiar.

Compelled to come up with a spectacular action sequence of the sort that opens every Bond film, he gives us a motorcycle chase through Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (with much predictable fruit-stand damage), a pursuit across the city’s colorful rooftops, and a violent confrontation atop a speeding train. All of this is staged with painstaking care, and it’s certainly not dull; but for the most part we’ve seen it—or something very much like it—before.

Read the full review at Reason.com


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