Review - Skyfall

Skyfall (2012), PG-13, 143 minutes - The tagline at the end of 2008's Quantum of Solace gave us the standard post credits promise "James Bond will return".  And return he did, just a little bit later than we had hoped (thanks to a delay caused by the fallout of MGM's bankruptcy and the legal limbo the franchise found itself in), this time around in Skyfall.  Not only does the latest Bond adventure mark the twenty third trip into the field for Ian Fleming's fictional British super spy, but also the 50th anniversary of the 007 film franchise.

Skyfall is a very personal story for MI6's best agent as he sets out to eliminate the agency's most recent threat: a former agent whose motive comes from what he perceives to be a lack of loyalty on the part of the agency, and more importantly from M (the head of MI6) herself.  Bond does this after surviving a botched operation in which he was shot after being caught in the line of fire.  A shot that was ordered by M in a last ditch attempt to save the operation.  As you can see, Bond has some potential loyalty issues to overcome himself.  Along the way, we see the re-introduction of a couple of classic Bond characters to this era of the franchise as well as a few nods to previous Bond history (discussed in more detail in the spoilers section at the end of this post).

Daniel Craig returns for his third adventure as James Bond (following 2006's Casino Royale and the aforementioned Solace), continuing to add more to the character's depth and history than we've seen from any of the previous Bonds.  He is joined by an excellent cast that includes Judi Dench (M), Ralph Fiennes (Mallory), Naomie Harris (Eve), Ben Whishaw (Q), Albert Finney (Kincade), and Javier Bardem as Silva, easily the most colorful and legitimately threatening Bond villain in years.

The film begins with an excellent, lengthy action sequence and keeps a fairly good pace throughout.  It is shot cleanly and doesn't rely on the shaky-cam style of action that most films resort to these days.  The action is clear and easy to follow.  Sam Mendes did an excellent job at the helm of Skyfall making a bit of a jump from his usual drama's to this drama filled action piece.

Skyfall in my opinion was well worth the delay its production.  I absolutely loved Casino Royale (as it was sort of an origin story) but Skyfall, I think, is Craig's best Bond outing yet.  He's signed on for at least two more entries to the franchise which can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned.  If you are a Bond fan at all or if you like a well made action flick, then do yourself a favor and see Skyfall in theaters.  If you aren't familiar with Bond - and after twenty two films, I'm not sure how someone couldn't be - you don't need to worry about being lost.  Skyfall stands very well on its own.  That being said, those who have grown up watching this franchise will get a little extra enjoyment out of it.  I for one, can't think of a better way to celebrate such a historic milestone for film's longest running franchise than to give Skyfall a watch (well, unless you were to completely nerd out and watch the previous twenty two films first)!











*****SPOILERS*****

- Ok, so this first bit isn't really a spoiler, but it had to be mentioned: the Skyfall theme, sung by Adele is excellent.  It is easily my favorite Bond theme in quite some time, and has a classic Bond style to it.  It makes me kind of nostalgic, and reminds me of seeing Goldfinger in my youth.  My parents may be able to correct my claim, but I believe that was the first Bond film I saw as a kid.

- We knew from the trailer that we would see the return of Q to the Bond franchise, but we also got Moneypenny!  I must say that I was so happy when that reveal was made.  Part way through the film I  thought to myself 'they're flirty like Bond and Moneypenny were back in the day, I wonder...?'  And sure enough that's how it played out.  I very much enjoyed it.  Even the slightest touch of there being an old fashioned coat rack just inside her door at the end of the film.

- Speaking of nods back to previous Bond films, I loved the inclusion of Bond's classic Aston Martin DB5, complete with ejector seat and machine gun headlights!

- Bardem's portrayal of Silva was already unsettling, but when he was being held by MI6, speaking to M face to face for the first time in years and he pulled out his dentures to show just how disfigured he was after the cyanide tablet didn't kill him, he was downright terrifying.  It wasn't just the lack of teeth, but you could see his cheek sink in where his upper jaw had been eaten away.

- I absolutely loved the personal history that they continued to build upon for Bond.  They not only touched on Vesper's comments about his being an orphan from Casino Royale, but they added to that continuity by having him revisit his childhood home from before his parents died.  These touches really ground the character and help show us how he became the man he is.  They also give these great action films depth and weight.

- I was saddened to see Judi Dench's M get killed off.  She has held the role for 6 films now (starting with GoldenEye), and for my money is the quintessential M in the history of Bond.  If she was going to go out though, I like the way that they did it.  From what little screen time he received, it looks like Ralph Fiennes may be a suitable replacement.  It will be very interesting to see how Bond's new team (M, Q, Moneypenny) will play out in future installments.

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