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May 29, 2017

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'Skyfall' for good

Starring Daniel Craig as 007 for a third time and Spanish actor Javier Bardem as Bond's latest nemesis, critics have already declared the 23rd Bond film to be one of the finest in the suave British spy's 50 years on the screen.

Yet with excessive computer gadgets, intrusive product placements, beautiful women that serve no purpose, action scenes lasting seemingly uninterrupted for two hours, phlegmatic humor out of context and above all credibility completely accessorized ... I later realized that times have changed.

The last time I saw James Bond was "Die Another Day" with Pierce Brosnan in 2002. The time before it was "For Your Eyes Only" in 1981 with Roger Moore. I planned to meet my good pace "enjoying" my next James Bond this year. But my expectations were too high.

The Bond franchise is for sure one of the most successful in history, with the 22 other films released so far taking in more than US$5 billion. Bond was first transported from Ian Fleming's novels to the silver screen in 1962 with "Dr. No" starring Sean Connery.

Two days ago, I found myself in a local theater for "Skyfall" and there was a shock. From the opening scene I understood that the atmosphere nowadays is more of an action movie that will be followed by another soon enough. From the movie's opening credits, I realized that what might follow could be something I didn't expect — and that eventually worried me.

On a positive note, it turned out that what followed glued me to my seat. There was a hero who knows how to show his weaknesses. This is a high-flying achievement for director Sam Mendes, who definitely knows how to lead actors like Daniel Craig who seems to better combine than anyone else force (bulging muscles) and faults (red eyes, face marked).

I didn't like, however, the French James Bond girl Berenice Marlohe in an overwhelming scene that sees her go in a tenth of a second of quiet strength to prey hunted, nor villain Javier Bardem, looking slightly ridiculous with his white hair and vague responses to an erotically charged gay scene.

There were even more scenes that were absolutely not credible (including Bond listening to CNN), moments sublimely realized but which served no purpose (I think especially at this turn of the "Macau ambience red" scene) and James Bond's clinker look as proof that even non-fans will worry to see him a little clumsy.

Without being insensitive to the James Bond mythology, I was onboard until the end while wondering how addicts could react to a film so different but central in the saga. If you read critics comments, I understand that opinions vary, everyone agrees on the lengths that I have not seen. Still, I'd like to thank Mendes to plunge me into the world of a hero who was hitherto kept at a distance of his own character. ■

'Skyfall' (007:空降危機) ► Directed by Sam Mendes / With Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Naomie Harris / Action, Adventure / 2012 / USA / 143 min. / English with Chinese subtitles / Now Showing / ★★☆☆☆

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