Skyfall is certainly one of the better Bond films of the past twenty years, though it’s not as if competition has been stiff. Appearing in his third film of the series, Daniel Craig has pretty much turned into an embodiment of the action icon, even if the series continues to be a little too melodramatic and self-serious. It used to be that Bond only resorted to violence if he couldn’t talk his way out of a situation. Now he’s pretty much a sad sack who uses violence as his first and only option. That could be because, as Skyfall‘s setup considers, Bond may be getting a little long in the tooth for this kind of field work. After a sensational opening sequence, in which Bond is thought to be killed, it’s brought up that it may be time for M (Dench) to retire and for MI6 to be put in more “modern” hands. The terrorists are simply becoming too anonymous and too technically savvy for MI6 to keep up.
Mortality is a running theme of Skyfall, and it’s done from a fresh perspective that brings a new sheen to the series. After emerging alive, Bond vows to show the brass at MI6 that he’s up to the challenge of hunting down cyber-terrorist Tiago Silva (Bardem). His travels will take him to Shanghai, Macau, and eventually his childhood family estate, Skyfall, in Scotland.
The Bond formula is tried and true, but director Sam Mendes breathes some much-needed life into the series by tearing down some of the superhero status and injecting more realities of aging and possibly losing the edge at your life’s work. The action scenes are spectacular and there is some inspired casting. Javier Bardem, who has to be involved in some sort of contest for most bizarre hairdos in film, makes for one of the creepier Bond villains in some time. He also has quite possibly the greatest introduction of any villain – ever. As a former MI6 agent seeking revenge for his imprisonment and torture, which he blames on M, he’s completely unhinged. Q makes his first appearance in the Craig-era films in the form of Ben Whishaw, looking more like he should be in line for the new iPhone as opposed to being the tech wiz at MI6. The ripple in the character works well. Skyfall still suffers from being a bit too dreary, but at least Mendes and company have good narrative reasons for it. It’s a fine action film. I just wish I could say it was more fun.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 143 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking.
Theatrical Release: November 9, 2012
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade & John Logan. Characters created by Ian Fleming.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris