The opening sequence of “Skyfall” is certainly something to marvel at. A mini-movie in its own right, the inception of the film feels more like a finale. In fact, an unassuming viewer walking into the theater might accidentally think they’ve stumbled upon the last few minutes of the movie.
But these awesome moments don’t make up the end but rather the very beginning of “Skyfall,” setting the bar high for the 23rd James Bond film in the 50-year legacy of the franchise.
Sometimes, the film sails over this bar with ease. At other times, it can barely do a chin up.
“Skyfall” is an amazingly photographed movie experience of optimum silliness masked in serious intent. Goofy, dark, campy, tongue-in-cheek — “Skyfall” occasionally is plagued by its desire to tackle multiple tones at once, serving up a distracting tonal imbalance for much of its running time.
Never having been a major Bond-phile — considering the last three films plus “Goldfinger” have been my only associations with the character — I entered “Skyfall” with the intentions of viewing it as part of the Daniel Craig series, rather in the entirety of the franchise itself.
And very much about these last three films suggests a new franchise of its own, with Daniel Craig’s Bond embodying a much darker, action-driven and unpredictable secret agent than those of Bond movie’s past. And yet, the film still can’t quite seem to land a finger on its pulse.
If anything, the movie feels like a James Bond video tribute compilation, with new director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) trying on his Christopher Nolan big-boy pants and notably failing at matching the director’s signature style for epic, action filmmaking.
The true MVP goes to cinematographer Roger Deakins, who in his second feature shot digitally surrounds his images with precise beauty that seems unfit for the standard-issue vehicle “Skyfall” ultimately delivers. The images pop while the story doesn’t, considering the film’s screenplay is among its weakest aspects.