Yes, I'd like to hear more about your thoughts too (especially considering that we share the same least favorite Bond film. Do you hate it the way one hates that (similar reasons, etc?), of is this a new, different kind of hate?). I don't mind the odd negative review, and can always rely on you not to be swayed either for or against the wider, fashionable consensus. I'm interested.
Okay, I'll say a little more, but I'll keep things spoiler-free here.
To start with, I was never reminded of TWINE while watching SKYFALL - not once, which may be a bit odd given that the two films share a number of obvious similarities that have for months been striking fear into the hearts of many Bond fans. Still, SKYFALL is not nearly as dull or joyless as TWINE, while Craig in SKYFALL is infinitely better than Brosnan in TWINE, Silva a vastly more compelling villain than Renard (Bardem is excellent and practically steals the film, although I do feel that his character ends up being a trifle underused), and Mendes' direction never reminded me of Apted's.
That said, SKYFALL does recycle a number of plot elements from TWINE and other very recent Bond outings, and for much of SKYFALL's running time we're once again going over a lot of extremely familiar ground. Mendes' effort does have some flair, but very little freshness.
It's not that I think SKYFALL is a bad film (I don't) - I just don't believe it to be worthy of all the hype. Given all the rave reviews, I expected it to match or even eclipse CASINO ROYALE (which I still consider by far the best Bond film
- as opposed to Bond movie
Not even close. This is, to my mind, a middle-ranking affair that's no more well-crafted or clever than, say, TOMORROW NEVER DIES. And while I freely admit that the fault for this may be mine entirely, I did expect more from Mendes. I expected (or, perhaps more accurately, wanted) "a Sam Mendes film that just happens to be about James Bond" (something genuinely surprising and groundbreaking, in other words, which was the film that CASINO ROYALE succeeded in being, to a large extent), but what we have is "a fairly standard-issue modern Bond movie that just happens to be directed by Sam Mendes, although you'd be hard pushed to detect his auteur
stamp or personal vision on the finished work".
Now, SKYFALL is far from appalling, although, yes, I think its finale (the final third of the film, roughly) falls flat. To say more here would be too "spoilerific", but, as I told Judo chop, I have all the gripes that he raised ("Is it the direction the story takes that you hated, or the direction itself? Or lackluster action? Or is it just the final wrap-up (whatever it may be)?") - I guess my problem lies more with the execution than the concept, though (although I'm not particularly fond of the concept).
I don't want to put anyone off SKYFALL (as if I could) - there are many good things about this film and I did enjoy quite a bit of it tremendously. Craig is superb, as ever, while Fiennes and Whishaw are also terrific. As for Bardem, like I say, he almost steals the show. There are some nice action moments (nothing really eye-popping, though) and some very cool visuals (especially during the Shanghai segment, although I never found Deakins' cinematography as ravishing as I'd felt led to expect), while I enjoyed the score (not a fan of the title song, though) and found there to be one huge laugh-out-loud moment (Craig's response to a question Bardem asks him at their first encounter).
On the other hand, there are a couple of subplots that didn't quite work for me, and the whole thing is absolutely riddled with plot holes and loose ends. "But all twenty-two of SKYFALL's predecessors are also full of plot holes!" I hear people cry. And that is very true (and many vintage Bond plot holes even come across as endearing), but this time round it all smacks of a laziness that I'd hoped that the series had left behind. Once again, the fault may well be mine in expecting the moon from Mendes, but make no mistake, the SKYFALL script is no less messy, half-baked and join-the-dots than that of, say, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II. Why is it that when "name" writers and directors board franchises like Bond the results so often feel like a case of "Will this do?"?
At its best, though, SKYFALL is good, entertaining stuff, and perhaps it misses the whole point of it (and of Bond) to hold it up to the harsh and excessive scrutiny of ultra-picky fandom. Also, had it followed DIE ANOTHER DAY instead of coming (almost immediately) after CASINO ROYALE it might seem much more impressive.