To celebrate 50 Years of Bond . . . James Bond, the latest installment does it’s darndest to bury the coasting & mediocrity that have been nearly as consistent to this franchise as sky-high grosses. Culminating a decade-long trend to add top-flight talent, you’ll find heaps of Oscar® nom’s & wins on C.V.s above and below the line. It's a far cry from the days when roles like M, Q or Moneypenny went to actors known largely for those cameos; when B-list stunt-casting filled the ranks of super-villains; or when journeyman meggers alternated with 2nd-unit action specialists in the director’s chair. Instead, SKYFALL comes off as a reasonably good Secret Service actioner, rather sober-sided until a larky last act tosses in a few iconic Bond toys, music themes & quips to groan at. There’s a downsized villain who skips world domination for personal revenge, and a big sex scene all about shaving that’s a bust, but the pic largely comes off. The problem is that you might as well be watching BOURNE or maybe MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. (Though Roger Deakins' elegant & exact compositions save us from ‘fashionable’ jittery camera work, and there’s far less masturbatory CGI than the current norm. If only someone could still stage a believable punch or get the logistics straight on a gun fight.) In many ways it’s a better Bond, a paradigm of a modern spy thriller. It’s just no longer unique.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Still looking for 7th billed Albert Finney? That’s him at the climax, playing the Bond family retainer up in Scotland. It’s a role that must have been written with Sean Connery in mind. Alas, the original 007 holds a long-standing grudge against the producers. (Hmm, wonder if it involves money?) Too bad. It sure beats THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN/’03 as a farewell.