“Skyfall” (2012) – Review

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Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan

Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, and Ben Whishaw

We begin on a mission where James Bond (Daniel Craig) has arrived too late, and a critical hard drive containing the real names and aliases of all undercover N.A.T.O. operatives has been stolen. The cat & mouse chase between Bond and the enemy operative leads across the streets, on the rooftops, and through the markets of Istanbul. We end on top of a moving passenger train where Bond is accidentally shot by his fellow MI-6 agent Eve (Naomie Harris) under orders from M (Judi Dench) and plummets to a river below. Cut-to opening song and credits.

With Bond presumed dead, MI-6 intelligence compromised, and a new administration in power, M finds herself under pressure from her new superior, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), to resign; she refuses. In route to MI-6 headquarters she discovers the stolen hard drive is being accessed and orders it to be traced. Quickly they determine the hard drive is being remotely accessed from her own computer. But before M reaches headquarters a gas explosion compromises the building.

Under threat by an unknown enemy, MI-6 retreats to secondary subterranean offices. Bond, learning of the attack while on some tropical paradise, reports back for duty. Before he is allowed back into active service he must past a number of physical and psychological test; which M states he does. Back in action, he reports to his new “Q”uartermaster (Ben Whishaw) for his assignment and his equipment.

This is the first Craig Bond film that feels like a traditional Bond film. The director, Sam Mendes, is obviously a Bond fan and peppers the movie with a number of references to past films. His action set pieces are the best of the series, and are on par with the best of the Bourne films. Mendes also bookends the movie with two vastly different sequences that perfectly illustrate the journey of the characters and the audience. Istanbul is bright, crowded, and full of color occurring during the day. Scotland is damp, grey, and empty ending at night. In the beginning Bond is full of energy and support, at the end he is battered and basically alone.

The story is simple and straightforward, as well as focuses on character development and motivation–probably the only time in Bond film history where all those things come together. You understand where Silva (Javier Bardem), the antagonist, is coming from and what he wants to accomplish. For the first time M’s career decisions are shown to have severe ramifications. Her cold calculating choice in Hong Kong years past resulted in the death of many in the present. Also, you learn more of Bond’s past in Skyfall. Where he came from and what happened to his family. Why M likes him so much.

The story is brought to life with success by the excellent cast, both old and new. Daniel Craig has made Bond his own, and more importantly he has made the character grow from film to film. The Bond of Skyfall is not the same one as Casino Royale; he is more jaded; tired of the business; in need of a reason to go on. Javier Bardem continues to prove that if you need a bad guy with a bad haircut, then he is your man. But whereas his Anton Chigurho of No Country for Old Men is a one-dimensional force of nature, his Silva is nuance and more humane.

The new additions of Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Whishaw will also benefit the franchise in years to come. Ben Whishaw in particular stands out as a new Q for a new time; both understanding the power of technology and eventually its limits. He was cheekiley brought down a peg by Silva, but the character was made better for it in the long run.

As a purely Bond film with all the traditions–and baggage–that implies, Skyfall stands as Daniel Craig’s best entry into the franchise.

Grade = A

Click on image to view trailer

 

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About VictorsMovieReviews

I love movies. I watch them, read them, and am currently writting one. View all posts by VictorsMovieReviews

17 responses to ““Skyfall” (2012) – Review

  • CMrok93

    Good review Victor. I liked Casino Royale more though but this almost lived up to the hype. A decent flick and one of the better Bond movies, but not my favorite of all-time I have to say.

  • Austin 'BishopReview'

    This was probably the best Bond movie in a long, long time. I might like it more than Goldeneye, which was my favorite Bond film for a very long time.

  • Lights Camera Reaction

    Really glad you liked this, its easily one of the best films of 2012. Awesome review.

  • ladyfi

    Great review – I really must make sure I see it!

  • sanclementejedi

    Nice write up Victor, I had a fun time watching this film. I thought Bardem played an excellent bad guy. I was not a huge fan of the lack of gadgetry and the 24ish computer technology bit.

  • The Focused Filmographer

    haha. nice jab at Javier’s bad guy haircuts!

    I, too, enjoyed this film and how Craig has just embodied Bond so well. This film had it’s issues for me but they were minor. I loved the cinematography (Shanghai, anyone?) and the action mixed with plot. So great and worth owning. Great review.

    and i LOVE that poster. First time I’ve seen it. where did you find it? Did you make it? Super sweet.

    btw, I’m loving the changes you’ve been doing with banners on top of each post and your funny comic strip. Some good stuff happening here! Keep it up.

  • GaryLee828

    I just came across your blog, and I have to disagree with you. Just when The Bond series was rebooted with Casino Royale, which may very well be the very best film of the franchise it reverted back to Pierce Brosnan silliness in Skyfall. The way he was fighting the bodyguard in the komodo dragon pit, and the komodo dragon killed the bad guy! LOL. That was lame!

    And then Javier Bardem’s character was not utilized. He was established on his first scene to be a really interesting villain, but then there are no memorable scenes to follow which was a major letdown.

    There were other things I didn’t like about it, but I can’t even remember them b/c I basically tuned the movie out after watching; I don’t even want to get the DVD it was so disappointing, and this is coming from someone who ranks Casino Royale in my all-time top 10 favorite movie list; the script to Casino Royale was immaculate, and flawless; not a strand of hair out of place! And I liked Quantum of Solace, as well, but expected Skyfall to blow it away…but QOS actually blew Skyfall away! QOS may not have been the best Bond film, but at least it was more gritty and less silly.

    If the Bond franchise had been in good shape with the Pierce Brosnan series then they never would have needed to reboot it – but b/c they realized it was getting campy they needed to make a change and go for a more gritty series in which Casino Royale pulled off in spades…but Skyfall is transitioning them back into silliness…and at this rate it won’t be long before they have to reboot the series yet again. lol.

    • VictorsMovieReviews

      Pierce Brosnan silliness may be a bit harsh. As for how “Skyfall” compares to QOS, I can’t say because I have not watched QOS.

      “Casino Royale” is a great film and was necessary for the Bond franchise, but personally it was not “Bond” enough. In my ranking of the top five Bond films I placed it at #3 for that reason.

      What I liked about “Skyfall” was that it brought the Bond elements back in a–to me–god way. Now I will say the producers may have painted themselves into a corner and gone too far by the end of the film. They have reestablished a male “M” in a stuffy British office with a female Moneypenny. I loved Judi Dench in the role and was not disappointed because she was killed, but I do not like the “old=boy network” vine they left the position with.

      As for Bardem, I see where you are coming from about him not being utilized. It took me a while to get to this one so I went into the theatre hearing so many good things about Bardem and the character. Frankly, I was a little underwhelmed after watching it. But when I wrote my review and thought about it, I thought it was a good performance and a good villain with a realistic goal.

      I will put QOS on my backlog of films to be watched though.

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