The US critics got their hands on Skyfall this week, and we’ve rounded up some key praise and critique for the 23rd Bond movie, stemming from this side of the Atlantic.
Mendes and Deakins are so busy trying to be visionary that they don’t notice that characters are wandering too far from their roots, and half the time you can’t see what’s going on. A sequence in Shanghai in which Bond fights a fellow assassin against a gorgeous giant screen of jellyfish images degenerates into two anonymous backlit shadows. Silva is introduced with a shot that’s so ridiculously deep-focus, the camera work becomes a distraction. The scenes at the country house (which feature an amusing cameo by Albert Finney, trying his best to sound Scottish) are a bedlam of shadow and blasts of mustard-colored light. – NY Post
The villain is a blond-haired nut job named Silva (Javier Bardem), a cyberterrorist, and he has a grudge to settle. I’m not sure Bond ever turns on a computer, much less uses one; he leaves that to Q (Ben Whitshaw), a full-on nerd whose age and manner make it hard for Bond to, well, bond with him. – Democrat and Chronicle
Sam Mendes indulges more in mood lighting than in fistfighting. He poses Craig like a Ken doll against various exotic backdrops (Macao, Shanghai) but barely wrinkles the suits. The film’s climax, which reinvents more than one origin story (and explains the film’s title), feels satisfyingly apocalyptic, which may be a good sign. Perhaps the next Bond will do more shaking than stirring. – Newsday
Deakins, who also shot Mendes’“Jarhead” and “Revolutionary Road,” provides a varied array of looks, all of them dazzling. The MI6 headquarters, which must be moved to a hidden underground location following a vicious attack, have a crisp and stylish industrial-loft chic about them. The rugged hills of Scotland, where the final battle occurs at Bond’s ancestral home, are both wondrous and imposing; by this point in the film, “Skyfall” extends beyond the familiar confines of a spy thriller and becomes a flat-out Western. It’s a bold move. – Daily Tribune
Watching the purposefulness of this movie, the way Mendes argues for conversation and atmosphere over conventional, incoherently assembled chases and fights, I realized I was frustrated. “Skyfall” does every single thing these movies have to do (Bond’s last-name/full-name introduction, the shaking of the martini, the sport cars and sport sex; the stunts, deployment of gadgets, and camped-up villainy), and there’s little Mendes can do to enliven the familiarity. – Boston Globe
What people will cling to, however, is Craig’s subtle, performance that drips with depth as he confronts a past that would have emotionally crippled lesser individuals. Craig’s Bond has been one of the most stoic and straightforward versions of the character. The humor he brings to the role is subtle. And he says more with his non-traditionally handsome face and pursed lips than most actors say with words. His well-worn face shows hints of weariness that prove especially noteworthy for his portrayal of 007 in this particular outing. – Examiner