Movie Review: James Bond SKYFALL

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Let me add my voice to those quite happy with the 50th Anniversary James Bond film, SKYFALL. Director Sam Mendes admirably helms Daniel Craig’s third time at bat, as the iconic James Bond.

Mendes, who is not known as an Action Director, but rather a maker of intimate and off kilter little films (such as AMERICAN BEAUTY and AWAY WE GO) rises to the occasion here with a film filled with tension and at times literally jaw dropping action set pieces.

From cars to trains to helicopters to subways, Daniel Craig’s Bond gets everything thrown at him, sometimes literally. However the film is more than blowing things up, it’s a tighter script and a more coherent and identifiable motivation for Bond’s nemesis this time out than is usually the case in Bond’s menagerie of outlandish villains.

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[POTENTIALLY MILD SPOILERS]

Played compellingly and hauntingly by Javier Bardem, Bond’s nemesis this time out seeks not Sattellite transmission rights, or orbital based weapons, nor voodoo mastery of the world… he seeks vengeance. And not long into the film, you’re not sure he doesn’t deserve it. Which is why I hesitate to call Javier Bardem’s Silva a villain. He is a dark mirror of a Bond who has given too much and too often to his country, and been left out in the cold one time too often and too deeply.

I found myself while not condoning Silva’s actions, understanding of the motivations that drive them. And distinctly aware of Silva as a cautionary tale to Bond; ‘there but for the grace of God’ as the saying goes.

[END OF SPOILERS]

And the complexity of character extends throughout the cast, from Daniel Craig’s always impressive turn as Bond, to Judi Dench celebrating her 17th year playing M (4 films with Pierce Brosnan and 3 films with Daniel Craig)by having one of her best written and most significant roles as the character; to impressive moments by Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw as Q.

While not a perfect film, the film manages to feel long in the tooth at times, but even in those moments it is never less than beautiful to look at. Filled with nods to the half century of Bond’s filmic history, unevenness and all, Mendes manages to merge winter blockbuster with intimate drama, to create a film that is ultimately memorable and re-watchable.

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Is it the best Bond film? No. It doesn’t even sport a particularly memorable or imaginative title sequence, but it is a very good Bond film, arguably in the top ten, and is a film, I think people can revisit often and well.

Grade: B+. Strongly Recommended to see in theaters, and a must own on DVD or Bluray.

4 Comments

  1. The best of the three Daniel Craig James Bond films so far. One of these days I have to sit down and write reviews of all three of them if for no other reason I can explain the many similarities I see between the three Craig Bond movies and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy. I’ve taken to referring to SKYFALL as “James Bond Rises” when talking about it with friends.

  2. I think Casino Royale still edges out Skyfall for me, but I did love the hell out of this movie. With Quantum of Solace, it felt like Marc Forster was embarrassed to be making a Bond film and any nods to the history (like Fields’ body being left in bed, covered in oil) just felt forced. But here, Mendes clearly embraces the history and doesn’t feel like there’s any shame in making a Bond film — and he’s right.

    • Hey PC, I agree with that rating of CASINO ROYALE, followed by SKYFALL, followed by QUANTUM OF SOLACE. Though I’m not as hard on QUANTUM OF SOLACE as some people. Yes it is overlong, and loses it way during the middle, and meanders to an end. But there’s a lot of energy in Marc Forster’s direction, and some standout scenes.

      Also, I tend to feel it sports the best title sequence of any of the Daniel Craig Bond Films, and arguably one of the best title sequences of any Bond film. Unlike a lot of people I feel Alicia Keys and Jack White’s ANOTHER WAY TO DIE is a great song, married to some of the most sumptuous and seductive visuals.

      Hmm that could be an upcoming Blog post. List the 10 Favorite/Best Bond Title Sequences. :).

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