Today! Because I always hated this place –
Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Daniel Craig (x3), Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes (x2), Albert Finney (x3), Rory Kinnear, Berenice Marlohe, Ola Rapace
Man, the Bond floodgates really opened here! For the third time in the last forty movies, we’ve got Ian Fleming all up in this piece. And unless I’m eyeballing the rest of the list incorrectly, we’ve got two Bonds still to come. Skyfall is my third favorite Bond movie? Really? Okay, I’ll take it. I wouldn’t have figured on this before, but as I said in #138 From Russia With Love (I think), my main enjoyment of the character is the very early films, and the very recent ones, and everything in between just blurs together. Even Moonraker.
In something that might only interest me, Skyfall also marked the end of one of the more interesting box office phenomenons ever. Across eight movies, covering 23 years, every James Bond movie outperformed the previous film in domestic gross. Come with me on this journey – starting in ’89 with License to Kill ($34.6 million) to GoldenEye ($106.4) to Tomorrow Never Dies ($125.3) to The World is Not Enough ($126.9) to Die Another Day ($160.9) to Casino Royale ($167.4) to Quantum of Solace ($168.3) to Skyfall, top of the heap at a whopping $304.3! I mean, there are a lot of narrow gains in there, but still, I don’t know of another film series that can claim anything like this. Fast and Furiouses three through seven all improved on each other, but that’s five movies in nine years. Not even close! Way to come along and screw the whole thing up, Spectre! Still the second highest grossing Bond film at $200 even, but come on!
(This is all unadjusted for inflation, mind you. Thunderball is the 31st highest grossing movie ever when adjusted, with something in the neighborhood of $675 million, as the top Bond picture.)
But man, those receipts don’t lie – Skyfall is a super crowd-pleasing film. After the letdown that was Quantum, to deliver this throwback Bond classic – replete with returning legendary characters and more Bond backstory than we’ve had in years – was a genius move. Oscar winner Sam Mendes proved a great action director (until, again, Spectre) and we got one of the three or four best villains in franchise history with Bardem’s Silva. There was serious Oscar talk for Bardem, and for Dench in her M swansong, but the movie only managed technical nominations (five, winning two for Sound Editing and Adele’s theme song). The BAFTAs were wild about the movie (which shouldn’t be a surprise), awarding it Best British Film, while nominating Bardem, Dench, the Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, and Sound. And again, this was 2012 – an outstanding movie year.
It was only verified for me later, but in the theater I was curious what the hell Albert Finney was doing turning up in the movie. It felt like it was supposed to be a big deal, in a movie that reintroduces Q and Moneypenny, like there’s some throwback connection to Albert Finney, but I couldn’t think of anything. And there’s not – this is Finney’s only Bond movie – so my logic was that they probably wanted Sean Connery to come back and, like, pass the torch or something, with this role. Connery, mind you, hasn’t made a movie in a decade at this point, even passing (it turned out, wisely) on Indiana Jones 4 in the meantime, and so even though I found out later that producers claim they decided it would’ve been weird to have him appear here as some random other character, my guess is there was no chance of this ever happening to begin with. Either way, Albert Finney’s great in everything, so it works? But it’s a little odd.
But hey, no reason to rag on Finney – he’s a new Three-Timer today, following his roles in #374 Murder on the Orient Express and #129 The Bourne Ultimatum, while Craig also joins the Threes after his work in #221 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and #226 Munich. Spotlight!
(Also, a fact that may only interest me, if James Bond 25 really did come out in February of 2020 – as it’s currently scheduled – it will have been the first Bond movie not released in November or December since License to Kill. Did they really go with Shatterhand as the title? As of this writing, that’s the thing most floated on the internet. That seems…kinda silly, right? Hope that changed!).
Coming tomorrow! Have some of column A, try all of column B –