Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan, Ian Fleming (characters)
Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear James Bond Film
This one starts with a bang. There’s a chase scene right off the bat in Istanbul, including cars, motorcycles, and a train. Later on there’s action in London, Shanghai, Macáu, and Scotland. Bond, as always, is a traveling man.
At the heart of this film, the very existence of MI-6’s Secret Service is threatened. There are those who that think old-style espionage has gone the way of the dodo. “M” is determined to fight them every step of the way.
Skyfall delves into the background of both Bond and “M”, filling in the bits and pieces and giving some of the motivation behind what makes these characters tick.
There are plots within plots within plots. In other words, a pretty standard Bond story. And the ending is heart-rending.
Adele’s “Skyfall” is a wonderful, soulful theme song, destined to be a classic.
Judi Dench as “M” absolutely shines. You get to see her with her hackles up, full of determination, stubborn as the day is long. She is unshakeable and determined to get the job done.
Daniel Craig is still a nitty-gritty Bond, willing to get his hands dirty when necessary, giving his all to fight for England. We see him exhausted and deep into his reserves here, using every bit of his resourcefulness to complete his mission. He is a dangerous man, more so when cornered.
Javier Bardem’s Silva, by comparison, is almost too low key. He fails to put enough intensity into his performance to really scare you. The character is loopy, but he doesn’t bring the truly crazy. We see him get tired, but he’s so laid back, it almost doesn’t matter.
The new quartermaster (“Q”) played by Ben Whishaw is also low-key, and he’s something of a minimalist–but he plays oh so well off Daniel Craig. And watch for his mug–he has a great sense of humor.
Of the two Bond girls, Bérénice Marlohe as Sévérine is completely forgetable. She is an absolutely typical, to-the-letter Bond girl. Naomie Harris is far more interesting as Eve, and her interaction with Bond much more complicated.
I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Tanner (Rory Kinnear), the aide-de-camp who is always there when needed, who never says more than he should, and is everything a good commander needs. Ralph Fiennes plays a bureaucrat with more depth than Bond gives him credit for, and Albert Finney cheerfully chews his way through every scene he’s in as a character out of Bond’s past.
Skyfall raises the stakes considerably, and does it well. While Silva doesn’t seem to be a world-class threat, he is certainly causing havoc, death, and destruction, and seems unstoppable. Bond is very vulnerable, more human, and very easy to identify with.
It’s a rollercoaster ride of the best kind. Go see it.
Elektra Hammond emulates her multi-sided idol Buckaroo Banzai by going in several directions at once.
Elektra lives in Delaware with her husband, Mike, and the cat herd of BlueBlaze/Benegesserit catteries. When not freelancing or appearing at science fiction conventions she travels world-wide judging cat shows.