SKYFALL

 

SKYFALL

 

By Gary ‘014’ Murray

Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench

Written by Neil Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan

Directed by Sam Mendes

Running time 2 hr 21 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating FULL PRICE

 

What can be said about James Bond that has not been said over twenty times before?  For the last 50 years, Albert Broccoli converted the Ian Fleming novels into a series of action/adventure spy thrillers.  They are one of the most successful franchises in history.  It has been many years since any Ian Fleming idea was used in creating the adventure and a few years since Albert Broccoli was in charge of the productions. 

While other writers have taken over the penning of stories and Barbara Broccoli has taken over the productions, the basic tenant of the series is still with audiences worldwide.  The latest in the series is entitled Skyfall and is another strong adventure.

With an opening salvo of classic Bond music, the film starts with James Bond (Daniel Craig) trying to retrieve a computer disk that contains all the covert agents named.  It soon becomes a giant chase through Turkey streets and eventually on a train.  This is the kind of action sequence that James Bond films are known for.  It is full of explosions, flash and spills that one expects from this type of movie.  Then, the first of many shocks of Skyfall happens.  Bond is shot and presumed dead. 

The film gets started with the theme song is from Adele and it is one of the strongest tunes in the series.  Arguably the most recognized themes have been “Gold finger”, “Live and Let Die” and “Nobody does it Better.”   This song holds up with the best of them. 

The aftermath of having the disk stolen is putting pressure on M (Judi Dench) to retire.  The political hounds gather strength and bravery in taking down the woman some consider weak.  Bond has used his presumed death in order to hide and retire.  An attack at MI6 in London forces James to come back.  M believes that the man behind the attacks is somehow connected with MI6.

Bond uses evidence that is imbedded in his shoulder to discover the man they are hunting is a mercenary in Shanghi.  There he eventually meets his ‘damsel in distress’ Severrine (Berenice Lim Marlohe) and the man behind the plan Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem).  Bond easily captures Silva and takes him back to MI6.  All of this is still the set-up to the grand nefarious plan of Silva.  Along the way, the audience is introduced to one of the oldest reminders to the Sean Connery beginning of the series.

The movie becomes much more of an Oedipus Complex as Bond and Silva face off around the motherly affections of M.  The final battle reveals what is Skyfall and how it relates to Bond.

The story of Skyfall is deadly serious.  It is not the flippant, silly adventures that dominated the Roger Moore era but a post Cold War thriller.   The series has evolved with the times and the world is not as black-and-white as when Ian Fleming was crafting stories.  This ‘shades of gray’ film is much more of what happens in the shadows of espionage than a thrill-a-minute ride.

Daniel Craig plays Bond so severe to the point of it being off-putting.   He is not a charming rogue but a hardened assassin.  This is not a man with a pithy quip but a stoic warrior, more Steve McQueen than Gregory Peck.   

As far as villains go, Javier Bardem brings the creep into creepy.  In this misplaced family drama, he is the forgotten middle child in the shadows of a star sibling.  Javier plays the part with the right mixture of pathos and acidity. 

The film is directed by Sam Mendes, the talent behind Road to Perdition, American Beauty and Revolutionary Road.  He has taken all the skills amassed in drama and action and applied them with Skyfall.  He captures the moody ambiguity he used in American Beauty and the action set-pieces that peppered Road to Perdition.  This is a master craftsman at work, the kind of visionary director that was lacking in some of the later adventures.

Skyfall is much more of a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy espionage tale than a silly Matt Helm styled adventure.   While some may find the lack of giant set action pieces a detriment, those looking for a realistic spy thriller could do no better than this film.  This is not James Bond as a superhero but James Bond as a flawed man.  It is a strong new direction for the character and series.

 

 

 

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