Directed by: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw
Running Time: 2 hrs 23 mins
Release Date: November 9, 2012
PLOT: British Secret Agent James Bond’s (Craig) trust in M (Dench) is tested as a past agent (Bardem) comes back to haunt her. MI6 is under attack, and Bond must track down and destroy the enemy.
WHO’S IT FOR? Have you ever liked a Bond movie? Do you think the Bourne films are better? These are the two main reasons to see this film. Beyond that,
Finally, on the 23rd try, James Bond gave me exactly what I was looking for. I’ve liked plenty of Bond movies throughout the years, but it’s really only the idea of James Bond that I have loved. Tough, suave, smart and lucky. Never once have I said, “You must see [insert James Bond movie here] in the theater!” Until now that is, because I’m telling you, you must see Skyfall in the theater if you’ve ever liked or have wanted to like the James Bond character.
How did they pull it off? They made it personal. Now some of you think they did that with Casino Royale, but the romance with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel his pain, but there is plenty to go around in Skyfall.
The opening scene is flawless. The first thing we hear are two blaring musical notes of classic Bond music, that seem to declare, “You get to have fun, sit back and enjoy this ride.” James is immediately chasing down a villain, with M in his ear, leading his charge. Something very small happens that seals it for me. James cares. He stops and shows sympathy for a fallen agent. We didn’t get that in the parkor-laden opening of Casino Royale. We just got action. That’s true for almost all of the Bond films. No stakes, just sizzle.
Don’t worry, it’s not all heart. I gasped four times simply due to the stakes of the action. That’s right. Stakes and sizzle. There’s one moment when James is at a bar, drinking away his troubles, and just for a second, it reminded me of Marion (Karen Allen) drinking in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Later in the film, James is fighting with a Komodo dragon pit nearby, and I immediately drifted to the Rancor battle in Return of the Jedi. There are two plot devices that are very similar to The Dark Knight. I’m happy to be reminded of those films, yet still feel like this is new territory for Bond.
As for the plot (and the personal), this one is all about M. You see, James hasn’t always been her favorite, there was another. Silva (Bardem) is a former agent out for revenge. He’s a genius, a little bit mad and completely addictive to watch on the screen. I kept waiting for Bardem to make his appearance, and when he finally does, the camera very smartly just sits on him during a long monologue. Seriously, his first scene is so good everything after that is just (very good) gravy.
M’s relationship, and James’ past make him a fully realized character. Even when he’s still fixing his suit during a fight, ordering his classic drink, or getting behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, you care about this Bond more than just thinking he’s cool. The additional casting of Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw works across the board. I’m assuming I’ll get to enjoy three of those characters for a few more films, and they fit very nicely in this Bondiverse. Whishaw is my favorite with these because it’s a natural fit for Q to be a cocky kid, making fun of exploding pens. It’s a great way to honor and poke at where we’ve come from with these films.
There are even classic movie devices at play here. In action or adventure films, a storm comes, metaphorically speaking. Good movies let you know the final act (the storm) is approaching through song, speech or actual storm. Skyfall properly announces, “Here’s the finale.”
As the saying goes, you’ve got to shake 22 Bond films, before the 23rd is stirred to perfection. Without a doubt, this is the best James Bond movie ever.
FINAL SCORE: 10/10