There is a stereotypical male response to a female that possesses intelligence and good looks, expressed, for example as surprise: “Wow – brains and beauty.” It’s meant to be a compliment, but really is a sexist statement implying that it is rare that a woman has intelligence at all.
Sadly, if Skyfall were a woman, it would long to hear such a sexist statement, for it is breathtakingly beautiful, but dumb as a box of hammers – to the point where one might question getting into bed with it in the first place or thinking it was all that to begin with.
It’s not that the clues aren’t present upon a first viewing of Skyfall, but its cinematography and pacing are so entertaining that one is seduced by the superficial grace at which it dances before you. The pre-credits 13-minute chase is stunning and riveting (and the best action sequence of the film). The Shanghai sequence in its entirety should be framed and put up on a wall, the assassination from the glassy high-rise luxurious to the eye. Silva’s island [SPOILERS, did I mention spoilers will follow? There will be SPOILERS from here on.] execution another impeccably framed and directed sequence. And so on. But the film reminds me of an interchange between Craig Sheffer (Frank) and Eric Stoltz (Joseph) talking about Craig’s former flame, from the 1994 indie film “Sleep With Me”:
Joseph: “She was so hot. What happened?”
Frank: “When I ran out of ways to tell her she was beautiful, the relationship kinda fizzled.”
Joseph: “That’s too bad.”
Frank: (smiling, reminiscing) “But she was beautiful.”
The script and plot problems of Skyfall are numerous, and become apparent quickly in a second viewing. Why is such a critical macguffin in a laptop in the field, with one guy watching it? (Think about how many hoops Ethan Hunt famously had to go through to get the same list in Mission Impossible.) Why are Bond and Eve there in the first place? What was with that assassination in Shanghai – Bond let it happen and there was no explanation as to why it went down that way. Why didn’t Bond just take the next elevator? Why did Silva not even frisk Bond for his radio? It is not like it was hidden in his shoe. What happened to the all-important NOC list? How could Bond not know Moneypenny’s last name? Why did Silva need to be captured in the first place? There are so many problems with the writing it distracts from the work.
Speaking of work, Daniel Craig’s Bond is superlative, but Javier Bardem steals the picture with every scene. It makes you wish the writers were better to allow them more sparring. And in the end, that’s how Skyfall leaves me, wishing there was a brain inside that gorgeous body. I’ll sleep with it, but I won’t ever love it.