The 23rd movie in the James Bond film franchise, Skyfall, goes back to its roots and is cinematic comfort food for fans of the world’s most famous super-spy. This wonderfully entertaining 007 outing follows the proven Bond formula of over-the-top action, beautiful women, exotic locations, demented villains, witty dialogue and exciting intrigue; but it remains fresh and modern while lovingly poking fun at its own 50 year history.
That’s right, with Skyfall, James Bond celebrates his 50th year in the movies and generations of fans will be pleased to know that this new film pays respectful homage to its illustrious heritage. This movie is packed with delightful surprises that will thrill older espionage enthusiasts as well as those who are just discovering Bond for the first time.
You know a film carries a lot of clout when it starts, as almost every Bond picture does, with an elaborate and intense action sequence that showcases the hero doing what he does best – performing miraculous feats while facing overwhelming odds – all while taking care not to ruffle his designer suit. For most movies this would be the climax at the end of the film, but Skyfall starts off with a bang and while the action that follows may not be as grandiose as its opening scenes, it is still an awesome and fulfilling ride all the way through.
The thrilling beginning , which includes Bond taking a bullet for Queen & country, transitions smoothly into a classic 007 opening credits sequence that flows with the titular new tune by the popular British singer/songwriter Adele. The music and the visuals are a perfect tribute to the Bond movies that have gone before and will have old school fans giddy with excitement.
Bond (Daniel Craig) is assumed dead after the opening sequence that has him being accidentally shot by his partner and plummeting from a train while it is crossing an immense gorge. He was trying to prevent a terrorist group from getting its hands on a computer drive that holds data regarding the United Kingdom’s MI6 agents and now it is just a matter of time before the drive is decoded and the British secret service and its agents are all in grave peril.
James, of course, survives his fall, but he is beaten up badly and starting to feel his age and the wear and tear that years spent saving the world will put on a body. He goes into hiding, but after a terrorist attack against MI6 he returns and reveals himself to be alive to his agency commander, “M” (Judi Dench).
After being debriefed and recertified as a 007 agent, James is soon hot on the trail of Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a creepy rogue agent who has a serious beef with “M” and the MI6 organization that he was once a part of. It’s now up to Bond to save his boss and defeat the bad guys.
Along the way the film covers locales like Turkey , Shanghai, Macau and Scotland, and introduces us to the new “Q” (Ben Whishaw), Bond’s supplier of all things high-tech and cool. Whishaw (who you will recognize from Cloud Atlas) does a great job filling the shoes of the eccentric inventor – even though the role is a lot more grounded in reality than in its previous personifications.
So what exactly is “Skyfall?” I had no idea going into this film and I assumed it was some sort of obscure Moonraker or Goldeneye type of villainous spy movie utility, but I was pleasantly impressed at the layered way in which the meaning of the film’s title is revealed; and it’s all in keeping with the meatier method in which this latest rendition of the Bond character is being developed.
I know that there are some hardcore Sean Connery fans out there who will say that this is heresy, but I really think that Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever. Not just because he is a gifted actor, but also because the Bond films that he has stared in have been very well written & directed and have expanded on the character as a real human being and not just a cartoonish archetype. Skyfall continues that welcome trend as it is skillfully helmed by Academy Award winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and the script by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade (Casino Royale) allows us to learn more about the ultimate spy’s mysterious background.
In his part as the Bond villain Raoul Silva, Javier Bardem can add another incredible evildoer role to his resume. His portrayal as the demented and effeminate antagonist in Skyfall is captivating and completely different; and is in the same love-to-hate-bad-guy league as his Anton Chigurh part in No Country for Old Men. (Although I can’t imagine he’ll ever top the Anton Chigurh role.)
The Skyfall cast also includes excellent performances by well-known talent like Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and Albert Finney (The Bourne Ultimatum), and the newest Bond girls Berenice Marlohe as Severine (an excellent femme fatale moniker) and Naomie Harris as James’ sexy sidekick (with a revealing surprise.)
2006’s Casino Royale reboot of the Bond franchise set the bar high for the veteran action hero, but Quantum of Solace (2008) saw the series take a step backwards toward some of its lamer efforts. Now with Skyfall this well-oiled spy train is back on track delivering first-rate action and adventure.