Friday, November 9, 2012

Skyfall (2012)

Director: Sam Mendes
Notable Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw

The Bond franchise may have been reborn with Craig in the lead role and a stunner kick off in "Casino Royale", but the momentum was inherently killed by the significantly mediocre event that was "Quantum Of Solace." Fear not, oh those of a cynical nature, for I am here to lay those doubts to rest. Craig's third outing as the illustrious James Bond is one for the books. It's just as good as "Casino Royale" in its modern take of the universal character and his exploits, but this time it's not afraid to throwback to what made Bond such a franchise hero with some over the top elements and often quirky new spins on classic elements. In fact, it's hard for me not to throw out the "one of the best Bond films ever" remarks because the film does everything one expects from a Bond film to do and adds just enough character depth and new paths to keep it refreshing.

STORYLINE: When a hard drive goes missing containing all the names and pictures of NATO's undercover agents, MI6 comes under fire for the leak. Not only that but during the scrap to retrieve the stolen information, MI6's best operative James Bond (Craig) is shot and presumed dead. After three months of searching, the head of the secret service M (Dench) receives death threats and an attack on MI6 puts the entire organization under fire from the government. Bond, who has been enjoying his death living a simple life, returns to London to help out only to find he may have lost his touch and he is going against a foe (Bardem) who always seems one step ahead.

Shadows is a theme that runs through the film. I highly suggest looking for them.
PLOT 5/5: What I really enjoy about "Skyfall" is that it returns itself to a more classic Bond style structure for a film without losing some of the more in depth character work that was added for this modern era. We have Bond who must return to active duty torn down and stripped of his talents and then he immediately has to jump around the globe to uncover a viciously crazy villain. There is plenty of espionage as he panders his way through various settings (Turkey, Shanghai) all beautifully shot with an artistic eye from Mendes who never loses sight on what a Bond film should be. Even the action is much more efficient as it kicks off with a rooftop motorcycle chase that immediately sets a new standard and ends with a surprisingly effective Bond on the defense sequence that takes the franchise to some unseen territory. The characters are well drawn out and the pacing is lightning. For one of the longest Bond films on run time, it rarely felt that way.

BOND 5/5: Once again Craig simply owns as this new and deeper Bond. He still retains many of the elements that make the character so much fun to watch with quips, kick ass action, and charm oozing out of his ears, but "Skyfall" also keeps pushing the actual character. We get to see a unique perspective of the character through his closer interactions with M this time around and some unique growth for him as he retrains and interacts with some new faces to classic characters including a very clever and modern take on Q. Bond may not be quite as cold this time around, but that doesn't mean the depth and realism isn't there hiding under some of the more basic Bond elements. 

Bond knows how to drive EVERY vehicle. Including construction equipment.
VILLAIN 5/5: There is a lot of interesting twists to the villain of "Skyfall." Silva is expertly played by Bardem with an odd insane genius (think of a combination of the quirkiness of Zorin and the brutality of Alec from "GoldenEye") that really is brought to light by some fantastic dialogue/writing and acting performance. He delivers this creepy "rat monologue" as his first appearance with this long static shot and from there you know shit is going to hit the fan. He's well connected, powerful with money and computers, and completely bat shit off his rocker. It's a combination that Bardem uses fully to make Silva one of the most memorable and delightfully over the top villains for the franchise...who happens to operate off of an abandoned island town.

The last two rats.
BOND GIRL 4/5: The only reason that this really receives a lower score than five is because there really isn't one 'true' Bond girl in "Skyfall." The closest thing you have is the character Eve, who has some brilliant interactions with Bond, but comes and goes when it serves the plot at its best. A few other smaller roles pop in and out too (and underdeveloped if not intriguing thread for Silva's woman for example), but Eve is perhaps the best there is here and when she is on screen her presence is very strong and the chemistry she has with Bond is overflowing. Not only that, but her character has a great twist at the end that will have the crowd cheering.

To throw it down as it should be, "Skyfall" is a stunner of a Bond film. The first two-thirds of the film interject everything one would expect from this modernized franchise with beautiful locales, edge of your seat chases/action, and a villain that takes it to the next level. The last third throws in so much fan service in the little anniversary details (exploding pens are no more?!) to match its unique twist on the franchise that its hard not to be impressed by the balance. "Skyfall" is both the future and past of James Bond and its perfectly executed and written to make it all work. A must see.

BONUS PRAISE: Three words. M's red door.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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