Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

A lot of praise has been heaped upon 'Skyfall'. Many respectable, wise critics have dubbed it "The best Bond ever," lauding it for its ability to both incorporate long lost elements of Bonds-gone-by while still preserving the moody, gritty realism of the Daniel Craig ever.

While I fall short of deeming Skyfall the best of all the 23 Bonds -- or even the best of Craig's 3 outings as the titular provocateur -- I could not agree more that what Sam Mendes has produced is a near flawless fusion of old and new and one of the most thrilling adventures in 007's 50-year career.
Skyfall -- as with all bonds since Thunderball -- begins with a pre-credit sequence that is both breathtaking in scope and pulse-pounding with adrenaline. It hearkens back to movies of yesteryear as bond goes from a foot chase to a car chase to a motorcycle chase along rooftops to a backhoe chase on a moving train, all while pausing to straighten tie and cufflinks (as seen in the trailer). It's a piece of exquisite Bond-action joy that sets up the films resurrection theme as bond is injured and struggles to return back to 100% health and active duty.

From there, we jump skip to a series of attacks on Mi6 that are seemingly directed vendetta-style at Judi Dench's 'M', who has played the role since Pierce Brosnan's Goldeneye (another "best"). On the job is Bond, back from some much-needed R&R, who pursues a somewhat-confusing trail of breadcrumbs first to Shanghai (where apparently everything glows, which looks awesome) then to Macau (where everything is dimly lit and floating on water, which looks awesome) and finally to a remote island where we meet our villain Silva, a snake-tongued cyber criminal with an axe to grind played by Javier Bardem.

Once again Bardem shows that he is adept at playing off-kilter evil, trading his bowl cut and cattle gun from No Country For Old Men for flowing blond locks, a laptop computer and just a pinch of homo-eroticism. He is eerie, off-putting and fascinating to watch but his motivations and actions struck me as slightly incomplete.

Back at home in London there are a number of side elements, such as the re-introduction of gadget-master Q and a political threat to M in the form of Ralph Fiennes, which all come to tie together nicely in the film's third act, which I won't describe suffice to say that it was an interestingly low-key way to stage the final showdown, whichbrought back memories of the Man With the Golden Gun era.

Casino Royale remains my favorite of the Craigs, but I admit that some of the criticism of being Bourne-ified is justified. Skyfall looks, feels, smells, and loves like the Bond we all grew up with; a suave Brit cracking wise, seducing women and taking names around the world. For the diehards, Skyfall is peppered with throwback nods and canonical additions that you may not have realized you missed but are nonetheless grin-inducing when they appear. For the uninitiated, it's just one heckuva good ride. A-

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