Saturday, March 30, 2013

James Bond in "Home Alone"

In my movie-packed week I also watched Skyfall, the latest Bond movie.  Sometimes I forget that Daniel Craig is the new James Bond.  He did five movies in between this and the last one, Quantum of Solace.  James Bond is not supposed to be that busy.  Roger Moore sure wasn't!
Or maybe I should've watched the movie alone.  One of my viewing companions was pretty disappointed.  Probably for the best that we didn't see this one in the theater.  And I was for similar reasons.  Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace changed Bond for the better, stripping away most of the kitsch that has marked the series for the most part.  No more Communists to fight, not as many blatant bikini babes, that kind of thing.  Skyfall heads back to the kitsch to a degree.  And, of course, the spectre of mortality that has hung heavy over cinema for the last ten or fifteen years or so rears its ugly head here, starting with the opening sequence.
SPOILER ALERT: In the opening sequence, in Istanbul, Bond's cute assistant follows Bond on a train, not unlike Steven Seagal getting back onto a train in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.  Sorry, but I forgot to take my anti-Seagal meds tonight.  She's got a rifle aimed at Bond and the dude he's fighting with on top of this train.  Like Jesus on Person of Interest, she seems to be connected to Bond a few hundred feet away, and M way back in London.  M tells her to take the shot.  She does, but she doesn't tell Bond to get out of the way, or perhaps lie flat on the train... anything.  Bond's assistant takes the shot, and... DOWN GOES BOND!  He lands in the water below.  Apparently he's skilled at cliff diving because he ends up okay.  Needless to say, the taken shot allows us to suspect that his assistant's a double agent, but more importantly to think about Bond's mortality, and consequently, our own.  We must use the time we have wisely.  With great power comes great responsibility.  We are what we eat, that kind of crap that I'm personally kinda sick of.  Bond later on asks his cute assistant the same thing, more or less.  "You know, you could've WARNED me first!" he says, if I remember correctly.
M presumes that Bond is dead, and she makes the necessary preparations, writing his epitaph, what have you.  Is this going to be the shortest Bond ever?  No, because we catch up with Bond having a quickie on an island someplace.  I keep forgetting that he does that.  He's contractually obligated to get it on with at least two ladies in each pic, as Garth Brooks once pointed out on SNL one time.  The other lady he gets it on with has a tattoo of a Macau sex trade worker.  I just hope Bond had a condom at the very least.
Javier Bardem, best known to me as Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, and as the wicked fat dude in Collateral, plays a blond villain here.  Not just any villain, though.  Bardem is an ex-MI6 agent turned supervillain, and he seems to kinda have his shit together!  But above all, he is a bad guy, so we can't root for him.  And when he was making his case for all the evil things he could do with his computers in his pajamas, I couldn't help but think that destabilizing Uganda or Rwanda or whatever country in Africa he cited wasn't so impressive.  But I can see how he'd have a genuine grievance with his former boss, M.  The dude's real teeth are kinda nasty.  Bond visits Bardem at his island lair, which looked strikingly like the one dream sequence in Inception.  In fact, the Oriental casino looked a bit like Inception, too.  Former Coen brothers production designer Dennis Gassner copied it well.  Apparently when you do big movies like this, you don't wanna stop.
So not only does Skyfall languish on the subject of impending mortality, and loss of youthful fitness, it also engages in blatant icon worship.  The original Bond car, the Aston Martin is taken out of storage, and Bond and M drive to Skyfall, Bond's childhood home.  Sorry... SPOILER ALERT.  You can go home again, and preferably if it's going to get blown to bits.  The home is prepped in a similar fashion to the home in Home Alone.  The only difference is, the kid in Home Alone had to fight two bumbling crooks.  Here, Bond has to fend off about ten ex-military guys with machine guns.  And that's just the first wave!  Bardem shows up later with about twenty ex-military or paramilitary guys, all with machine guns.  Albert Finney plays the aged caretaker of Skyfall, and he, Bond and M prepare for battle.  "Sometimes the old ways are the best," Finney says.  And a few liberties with the plot don't hurt either.
One last point about the finale: I kinda wish it was like the finale of In the Line of Fire, where just before Malkovich gets shot, he says to Eastwood, "You bastard!"  That seemed half-ass human.  Bardem throws a look to Bond that basically said that, so... okay, I guess my wish was fulfilled after all.
My disappointed viewing companion thought that they were preparing us for the end of the Bond franchise as we know it with this one.  I just checked Daniel Craig's IMDb page, and what does it say?  Bond 24 and Bond 25, announced.  Oh, and the next Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie.  So, Craig's slowing down a little bit at least.  A toast in the hopes that the next Bond movies will not be like Skyfall.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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