Skyfall, 007 at His Best (Film Review)

SKYFALL poster

One of the best James Bond pictures ever made, Skyfall makes its way into theaters this weekend for what I believe will be a box-office blowout.  The action packed thriller starts with a bang and doesn’t disappoint in the finale.  For all you 007 addicts it’s time to check it out on the 50th anniversary of a solid film franchise.

Bond (Daniel Craig) finds himself vanquished when a bullet meant for his foe takes him out atop a train.  His mission was to retrieve a list of secret British agents before they got into the wrong hands.  With a mission failed, M (Judi Dench) finds herself under the heat of the British Government when six of the spies on the list are get targeted for death.  When M gets a formal threat on her life and they find Sylva (Javier Bardem) an ex-spy is involved, Bond shows up to track him down.

Number 23 and counting, this James Bond has enough force for two films.  Packed with the power of chase, intrigue and explosive energy the movie flies along at a fast pace moving through several countries while tracking down rogue spies and a treacherous traitor.  Keeping the clock ticking, Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) crams every trick in the book into his film including some incredible motorbike romps with death defying mind boggling stunts.  Getting excellent performances from his talent, especially Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench, Mendes shows he has the mastery to become a convincing choice for the next 007 installment.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in SKYFALL

Acting on the part of Craig has improved tenfold since his last outings in Quantum of Solace and Casino Royal where he was mildly criticized for this ability to portray Bond.  Here he shocks, surprises and delivers the performance of his career taking a beating along the way to a very high octane character saving winner.  Craig did a major portion of his stunt work that you will see in this film.  And yes, in addition to doing some crazy bike riding that is really Daniel Craig fighting atop a moving train in the opening sequence.

Bond and Sylva (Javier Bardem) in a tense scene from SKYFALL

Craig’s support team delivers characters with outstanding performances of their own.  Javier Bardem creates a character with the personality of Anton Chigurh the mass murderer in No Country For Old Men.  Here he’s a retired rogue British spy that wants to take revenge on his former boss.  The cold callous assassin turns his guns on Bond viciously killing anyone in his way. The darling Judi Dench reprises her role as M she took over in 1995’s Goldeneye and has since been a mainstay for the franchise appearing in 7 Bond films.  But, in Skyfall she’s not a desk jockey. Here she finally leaves the comfort of her office when she finds herself a target, showing her prowess as a fighter with which to be reckoned.

The cinematography, choreography and special effects are outstanding in Skyfall.  Producers throw the dice, laying out $150 million to bring realism and incredible aggressive action sequences that produces a nail brighter.  The 12 minutes chase scene in the beginning of the film alone seems never ending involving speeding motorcycles, crashing cars, a train fight and more.  The stunts are the key here and the crew pulls off some very perilous maneuvers that had me gasping.  Extreme cycling showed some bone crushing moves that would have an amateur on his back for months, but pro stunt members glided motorcycles over rooftops, leaped off bridges and many more jaw dropping daredevil feats.

Mendes also brings back the music from the score of the original Bond films that was lacking in Quantum and Casino.  A very smart move as the loss of this trademark music during the aforementioned films had lessened Bond’s urgency and impending attack.  Adele was chosen to write and perform the lead song “Skyfall”.  She joins famous singers Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Carly Simon, Paul McCartney, Nancy Sinatra, and Madonna among others who have performed the theme songs for the Bond films.

Bérénice Marlohe as ‘Bond Girl’ Severine

50 years ago James Bond came to the screen and now 23 episodes later fans will be asking for more.  The exciting spy who never seems to slow down even when he’s brutally beaten, wounded or exhausted from a fight always retains his luster.  He’s the proverbial icon in spy action films and would be a total loss if producers stopped making the 007 films fans have grown to love.  Besides I would personally miss seeing all the beautiful women, amazing gadgets, flashy cars, outstanding locations and the super spy himself.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Bond at its best. (A)

Additional Film Information:

  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Helen McCrory, Rory Kinear, with Albert Finney, and Judi Dench as “M”
  • Directed by: Sam Mendes
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking
  • Genre:     Action/Adventure, Sequel
  • Running Time: 2 hours 23 minutes
  • Opening Date: November 9, 2012
  • Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing


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