Skyfall received near unanimous praise since its worldwide release, averaging over 90% in favorable reviews from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. James Bond’s 50th anniversary outing had firmly replanted our favorite superspy once again on familiar soil after being rebooted in 2006 with Casino Royale, then exiled from the silver screen for four years after the disastrous Quantum of Solace in 2008.
Yet there are a small percentage of Bond fans who have been griping about Skyfall being a little too much like those pre Daniel Craig adventures, citing everything from an overly flamboyant villain (Javier Bardem) to inane plot contrivances and inconsistencies.
By and large the James Bond films have always been the perfect comfort food cinema for the past 50 years. You always knew the type of cinematic meal you were getting, and it was usually pretty good (The Spy Who Loved Me), even if some of it was pretty bad (Moonraker). By 1999, however, audiences had grown tired of the stale taste of Bond. The World Is Not Enough was Pierce Brosnan’s final outing, and you can tell his heart was no longer in the character.
The franchise was long overdue for a menu upgrade, and it would take seven years before we would see a fresh new take on the character. Casino Royale stripped away many of our comfort food favourites. Gone were the over the top villains, the gadgets, and bad Roger Moore styled puns. Even the famous theme song had changed! Instead we were fed a grittier Bond, one more in line with the Jason Borne franchise, full of brutal fight scenes and humorless dialogue.
These changes were mainly well received as a rebooted James Bond (now in the capable hands of Daniel Craig) found a younger audience of movie fans to carry the legacy forward. Unfortunately the honeymoon was short lived. A mere two years later this new menu would create gastric distress in movie goers with the underdeveloped (and poorly directed) follow up, Quantum of Solace. Conceived during a writer’s strike, Quantum would pull even farther away from the established Bond canon and become a standard action flick full of bad editing choices and dull villains.
As film warriors, we’ll tolerate certain menu changes, so long as you don’t remove the menu entirely. Bond was now a humorless jerk, and we found no comfort food in this entrée.
In the four years between Quantum and Skyfall, the powers that be in charge of the franchise would come to realize one important fact about its audience and then set in motion a film that would restore the comfort food balance. Simply put:
All we want is a Bond film.
That’s all we’ve ever really wanted! Gorgeous women, larger than life action, crazy villains, a familiar cast of characters (M, Q, Moneypenny, etc.), famous lines, and nutty plot points. This is our comfort food! This is what we settle into the theater with after a long day of reality during the holiday season. We just want to slip on a tux for a few hours and get away to some exotic locale with a shaken martini and a Walter PPK.
It’s for these reasons Skyfall is being touted by some as the BEST BOND FILM EVER. It’s because director Sam Mendes and screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan were successfully able to repackage these familiar comfort food elements with the gritty new Bond from Casino Royale. As a result, Skyfall is a wonderful, nostalgic homage to one of the most famous cinematic characters in film history, a summation of 50 years of creative filmmaking.
It’s the reason we love movies. Perhaps that small percentage of Skyfall naysayers has forgotten just how good comfort food cinema can taste…