Movie Review: Skyfall

Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Bérénice Marlohe

Rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking, Running time 142 minutes, Action/Adventure

Compare to: Goldeneye (1995), Mission Impossible III (2006)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, here it is. The movie you’ve all been waiting for. Bond is back in his twenty-third movie at his fiftieth year. Though he only looks about forty-two or so. How will this compare to the last two? How will it compare to all others? In the hands of director Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition, Jarhead), there wasn’t really any doubt that it would have the drama a man of twenty-three films needs to keep things interesting. But the action, suspense, and the “Bond-ness…?” Is it all still here?

YES.

After a failure of epic proportions takes place during a lucrative mission, Bond is deemed inactive in his line of work, and goes under the radar for a while: He’s thought to be dead and he takes the opportunity to lay around on the beach, drinking. But when an attack on his base headquarters is made, and a personal message to M, Bond’s superior, is enacted, Bond decides to come back and find out who’s behind the attacks and what exactly M is hiding from him.

Hopes are always high when a new Bond movie is released but none more so than the “rebooted” Bond films are. Craig is still as tough as ever, his brutish stride and stiff jaw let us know that now, more than ever does he mean business. And as usual, actions speak louder than words and do they speak; Bond’s ability to dispatch several opponents at once, disarming them as well as knocking the unconscious feels fluid and violent all in quick, smooth motion. The credit goes to everyone involved of course, not just Craig alone although as expected, he carries much of the movie.

Judi Dench as well as the rest of the cast round out the film, giving the impression of many previous Bond films while keeping it’s own identity. This one more so than the last two seem to recall back to the days of Bond intercepting messages and interrupting assassins with grace only Bond exudes. Parties with bizarre set-ups, casinos and meetings that only the most elite are a part of. One scene with a pair of Komodo dragons is especially notable as what starts of as party decor end up as living booby traps.

Javier Bardem enters the 007 realm as Raoul Silva, a former M16 agent gone rogue whose main goal seems to be destroy and destruct. His obsession with M only furthers his intensity…and his weirdness. As far as Bond villains go, Bardem definitely has his place. With some of the most expressive mannerisms Bond has ever had to watch while tied up to a chair and having to hear a plan explained, this isn’t a villains you’re going to be forgetting soon and may be the closest thing to the Joker that Bond is ever going to get. Methodical and chaotic at the same time, one that may make the older generation of Bond fans slightly uncomfortable in his preferences.

Ultimately, you should enjoy this one regardless of your favorite Bond. Many fans were disappointed with Quantum of Solace in 2008 after expectations were raised thanks to Martin Campbell, the man who re-kickstarted Bond twice, with Goldeneye in ’95 and Casino Royale in 2006. Skyfall takes a much more personal route for Bond and M, characters whose pasts are generally treated as “unimportant to the mission” if you will. Not that the movie ever takes too much time to slow down and have us think on the complexities of life in the spy world, but to give us a little pat on the back before throwing us out of the plane.

As fans of the series, new and old, everybody should be pleased in one way or another. Alas, there are always the fans who only want action scene after action scene, but for new eras come new changes. Skyfall actually brings much of the series back to basics without ever having you feel as though the tone has been morphed to please anyone.

Good stuff.

Grade: B+

 

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