Skyfall

PhotobucketA hard drive has been stolen that contains the identities of NATO agents working as undercover operatives around the world. Many lives as well as the very existence of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, are now at stake. M, the head of MI6, will stop at nothing to retrieve it. If that means endangering the life of James Bond, our beloved hero, so be it.

Agent 007 returns in his 23rd adventure, and the 3rd starring Daniel Craig. Skyfall is thankfully a return to the main principles of Bond. The narrative is appreciatively clean and simple with an eye toward tradition. Director Sam Mendes respects the hallmarks that separate author Ian Fleming’s character from the herd. It’s not afraid to revel in the qualities that established James Bond to be the super-spy that he is. Yes there’s gambling, drinking, meaningless sex, witty one liners, ridiculous chases and a hissable villain. Even the theme song by Adele is a complete throwback to the classic themes by divas like Shirley Bassey. Are these cliché’s? Definitely. That is what makes a James Bond film so captivating. If Skyfall is to be measured by its number of clichés, exercised in small doses mind you, this is a darn good entry in the cannon.

The film is highlighted by action that is a joy to watch. That opening chase is completely bananas as we maneuver by car through the streets of Istanbul and then on to motorcycles racing over the rooftops. Soon we’re traveling aboard a train where naturally there’s a tractor for Bond to drive while atop that locomotive. It’s a dizzying delight. Later he ends up on a skyscraper in Shanghai. Against a video backdrop of animated jellyfish he goes toe to toe with a French mercenary working for a criminal mastermind. Their fighting silhouettes are outlined by the glowing blue neon background. The scenes are intrinsically riveting, but what raises the level of excitement is that they’re also beautiful to look at. Cinematographer extraordinaire, Roger Deakins is at the helm. Well known for his work with the Coen brothers, he brings his impressive expertise to the proceedings.

Skyfall celebrates James Bond in a story that’s refreshingly easy to follow. This is back to basics – sure to satisfy the purists while entertaining newbies to the franchise. No disrespect to Sean Connery or anyone else for that matter, but Daniel Craig has now eased into the part like he owns the role. The entire cast is excellent. Javier Bardem is absolutely wonderful as Raoul Silva a pale, blonde haired villain you’ll love to hate. He’s really engaging in his flirtatious exchanges as the cyberterrorist.  And he has an intelligent back-story. His evil ways are actually quite understandable. Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw all inhabit their roles with the confidence required. Even newcomer Bérénice Marlohe as “Bond girl” Sévérine is suitably enigmatic and alluring. The balance between lighthearted and serious is perfectly achieved in every scene. All of these elements combine with some nifty set pieces framed by some stunning cinematography. James Bond is back and he’s got style to spare!

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59 Responses to “Skyfall”

  1. Great fun! All the exciting elements I expected. By far, my favorite one. Of course, I’ve only seen 4 Bond movies. Cast was all great. 4 stars.

  2. Oh no…not you too, Mark! I was actually waiting for your review to see which way you go. I guess I sound more and more like a ‘ranting’ lunatic now, since my review is possibly the only one that completely pans this film! Still, yours was a fun read 🙂

    • I can sympathize. There have been times where I felt that way about a film. We should give our honest reaction.

      Skyfall stays true to James Bond and perhaps that might not be your cup of tea, so to speak. But this was just so much fun. I had a great time.

      • Oh but true Bond IS my cup of tea. I just didn’t think this was it. Maybe I need to watch this again to see what EVERYONE else enjoyed!

        Till next time…

    • I agree with you. I can SEE what they were going for but I just thought it was too cartoonish! The one thing Bond is not supposed to be is Cartoonish !!!!!!

      No way no how could you possibly say SkyFall was better than Casino Royale… The return of a meaningful moneypenny and M and Q story in Casino Royale far outweigh Bardem’s iconic bad guy cause they went way overboard!

      SkyFall was not terrible but it was terribly cartoonish in places…

      eerily i think Adele’s theme song matched the film perfectly… definitely not a top 5 Bond song it was very bondesque but to be Bondesque in 2012 is cartoonish!

  3. I literally just got back home from seeing this. Can’t wait to spill out my thoughts. Easily one of the best of the year. Nice review.

  4. Loved this one. One of the best Bond films and one of my favorites of this year. Nice review.

    • I didn’t find much fault with it. In the James Bond universe, this really delivered for me. Before I wouldn’t even consider myself much of a James Bond fan. That all changed with this film.

  5. Agree, agree, AGREE!!! I’m so happy Bond is back & I already can’t wait for the next one! I’m already planning on seeing this one again. THIS may be my favourite film this year? I know it is so far. Perfect review, thanks Mark 🙂

    • I loved it as well. It’s not my best film of the year. It’s still a James Bond film and as such, it follows a common storyline. It recalls a lot of other films actually. I don’t fault the film for that. In fact I congratulate it. However it keeps it from being the truly original piece of work that would cause me to proclaim it the very best film of the year.

      P.S. Is it just me or did the climax remind you of Home Alone?

  6. Great review, Mark. I think you’ve the nail on the head with this. I really enjoyed Skyfall, but Casino Royale still remains Craig’s best one so far. Bardem is terrific – I did wonder if he’d be too hammy, but loved his performance.

    • Javier Bardem is the best movie villain since Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Some similarities there too.

      I actually liked Skyfall more than Casino Royale, but with two such great films, the point is moot. It’ll be interesting to see if this becomes the highest grossing Bond ever worldwide.

      • GaryLee828 Says:

        No way Bardem eclipses Mads. Mads’ eyes were some of the very best acting I’ve ever seen. On par with Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis and Christoph Waltz.

  7. grainandluster Says:

    great review, not so great portrayal of bond, this whole skyfall.

  8. You hit all the main points, Mark. I agree with everything. I also found myself apologizing to Sean Connery. I thought the humor was smarter than the old campy style, and was made possible because the relationships were deeper.

    • You bring up an excellent point. The script really takes its time to develop the relationships. Judi Dench has been playing M since GoldenEye in 1995. She’s always been strong, yet I have never found her version of the character more compelling than I did in this film. The script really fleshes out her role and makes her an integral part of the story.

  9. nice review. looking forward to seeing this. it’s receiving so much positive feedback. you also mentioned in one of your replies above, that you liked it more than Casino Royale- which is some good news. i thought Casino Royale was ok, but GoldenEye is much better.

    • I think both Casino Royale and Skyfall are quite good. If I had to pick, I’d choose Skyfall. It’s a little more lighthearted and the script goes deeper into the characters. We wont even talk about Quantum of Solace.

    • For a good example of the film’s lighthearted tone, watch the Silva meets Bond sequence. It’s very cheeky.

      P.S. So you decided to start blogging again? That’s great news!

  10. Great review, I can’t wait to see Skyfall.

  11. You’ve already commented on my review (http://wp.me/p1LZxf-Sr if anyone else wants a read), so you know how much we agree on things. I did love the movie, but I think I saw more faults with the movie than most. My biggest problems with it is the stereotipical nature of some elements, in particular the characters, like Silva and the new Q. I also think it could have been trimmed slightly in the middle to improve pacing. Lots of people are saying this is the best Bond ‘ever’ (a phrase which is quicly beginning to grate on me) but I still think that title goes to Casino Royale with this coming in a close second place. One other thing you’re right about, Craig owns the role now, and rightly so.

    • That “stereotypical nature” is something I find in every Bond movie. There are attributes I expect in a Bond story that make it a Bond film. The more you celebrate those attributes, the more I think it succeeds. Quantum of Solace, for example, played too much with the formula.

      “Best Bond Ever” is a title that has no answer really. It usually reveals the age of the person making the assessment more than definitive truth. Among (older) critics who have seen everything, I most often hear Sean Connery’s titles making the top of those lists.

  12. kdoriginalkd Says:

    Great review! 🙂

    I think I may have to see this one actually 🙂
    Never been a Bond fan, but hey one has to be the first.

    K.D.

    Check my reviewing blog out if you like http://mediarated.wordpress.com/ Thanks 🙂

  13. Great write-up here Mark. I’m completely with you on Deakins’ sublime cinematography. That was the most impressive thing about the film for me. I don’t share eveyones Bond enthusiasm but it was still a lot of fun.

  14. Great write up, and I gotta agree with you, Skyfall was great. Silva is already one of my favourite Bond villains, Bardem just has that creepiness completely nailed. Was overly enamoured with Eve to be honest and thought the billing of Severine as the Bond girl was a little misleading – there’s only one Bond girl in this flick and that’s a certain Ms Dench.

    • Ms. Dench was pretty great so no argument there. Javier Bardem was such a wonderful villain. Some have lamented that Silva shows up too late, that they would’ve appreciated an earlier arrival. But I think his appearance is actually perfect because it builds to this great entrance and leaves you with wanting more.

  15. Good review Mark. It’s not the best Bond film to ever be made, but it’s still very good and definitely has me ready for the next installments with Craig. Let’s just hope they don’t decide to call back-up Marc Forster, or we may have a bit of a problemo.

  16. Great review, Mark! Pretty much agree on everything. Like I said in my review, I think it could’ve used a little more action but when they gave us action, it was fantastic. The cinematography was great as well.

  17. Absolutely beautiful and well-acted with some great music to set the mood. Not my favorite Bond movie in terms of story however. I thought the villain came off like an attention-seeking child and the banter between characters wasn’t as clever as it was trying to be. I would agree that it honors certain Bond cliches to a degree, but I think in other ways Skyfall tries to break the mold with a sleeker visual approach, as well as greater emphasis on characters and locations. There are almost no gadgets of significance, and Bond’s interactions with the ladies is kept to a minimum since none of them help him fight the bad guy throughout the entire film. That’s why I think this movie is more likely to please cinemaphiles than hardcore Bond fans.

    • I love that we’re really not sure if Silva is just trying to make Bond uncomfortable or if he is truly serious in his exchanges. There is humor there but he also seems menacing. It’s a difficult balance and Bardem pulled it off really well. True there aren’t many gadgets, but that has been an issue with all of Craig’s Bonds. Honestly, I haven’t heard much griping from either cinephiles or hardcore fans on Skyfall This Bond appears to be an across the board smash.

  18. That crane thing was crazy!! God, Naomie Harris is so beautiful.

    • Naomie Harris is gorgeous, but let’s not forget Bérénice Marlohe. She may not have had a very large part, but she fulfilled a very important responsibility. 😉

      • The shower scene? That was part so funny to me in that it’s such a fantasy for a lot of people. (I think. Not mine!) I had to suppress my laughter so people around me wouldn’t judge. lol

  19. BUT…what happened to the hard drive??

  20. moviewriting Says:

    Fantastic review Mark, really glad you enjoyed this. I’m a big fan of Craig as Bond and it really didn’t disappoint!

  21. I loved it. You’re right to highlight the cinematography, it is stunning. This for me is Daniel Craig’s best one to date – and that is high praise given how good Casino Royale was. The 6th best Bond film in my eyes.

  22. I distinctly remember loving Casino Royale… walking out of the theater thinking hmmm was that supposed to be modern times? It was such a throwback in style, parts of the film like the card game were so 60s like in decor and the tone of the dialogue …

    Skyfall was not the worst film, but I left the theater wondering if it was supposed to be some kind of surreal dream was it even supposed to be real !!!!

    parts of that film were so outlandishly cartoonish it was hard to decide…

    SKYFALL was not terrible but it was terribly hard to take serious…

    and it seemed to wipeout all the ground work that Casino Royale laid out for us…

    pity

    • There’re always been a heightened sense of reality to a James Bond flick. Yes some have even ventured into camp.

      I thought Skyfall was actually quite serious and meticulous in handling its characters. In particular Judi Dench as M got the most detailed and nuanced version of her character ever.

      And whatever ground work Casino Royale laid out, Quantum of Solace eliminated. This was a return to form.

      Sorry you didn’t like it, but I appreciate your take.

  23. GaryLee828 Says:

    Okay, this must be “Mark & Gary Disagree Day”. lol. I hated “Skyfall” as I felt the franchise reverted back to the Pierce Brosnan days. This film was so corny. Like when Judi Dench was running away and hiding from Silva, but yet turned on the flashlight so she could easily be spotted. LOL.

    I understand “Quantum of Solace” was underwhelming after the brilliance of “Casino Royale” but at least it was gritty and not campy. I thought QOS served as a sequel to CR and tied that story up and developed Bond’s character and how he became an agent and how became so cold, particularly towards women and committed relationships.

    I typically agree with your reviews, but not today. I think I’m seeing the big difference with our views is that you like your action and horror movies to have a light-heartedness aspect to them, but I want it to be more serious throughout. Ironically, “Dumb & Dumber” is my favorite movie. lol. But that’s b/c “Dumb & Dumber” is intended to be light-hearted. I don’t mind light-hearted when it’s intended to be, but when I watch an action, thriller or horror I want seriousness; but more than seriousness I just want consistency, congruency and plausibility.

    That’s an issue I had with “Skyfall” was one minute it was gritty – and the next minute Bond is evading guys who are getting eaten by a Komodo dragon. lol. That’s just lame to me and feels cheap b/c I wanted to see Bond take out the villain. Not some corny reptile.

    • I like my action and horror well-written with good characters. Doesn’t matter how lighthearted or serious it is.

      Skyfall has become a modern classic: It’s the 8th biggest hit of all time grossing $1.1 billion worldwide. 7.8 rating on imdb.com, 92% RT score. It was universally loved by both critics and audiences alike. 5 Oscar nominations, 2 wins.

      I never noticed it before, but you’re highlighting your contrarian views. Mark & Gary Disagree Day? Ha ha more like Everyone Else & Gary Disagree Day. 😉

      • GaryLee828 Says:

        I think people’s opinion of “Skyfall” is largely persuaded by the mesmerizing cinematography and the slew of A-list actors. People were so hungry for a new Bond film since “Quantum of Solace” that they decided they loved the film before even viewing it. I don’t think many Bond fans were very objective here. Javier Bardem. Sam Mendes. “I love it!!” they said before even going to the theater…

        But the script itself was severely lacking.

        I wouldn’t say I’m a “contrarian” b/c I typically agree with your opinions; which is why when I disagree it probably has more of an impact. Before yesterday we only disagreed on “Man of Steel” and “You’re Next”. If I was a contrarian, I would not agree with you as much as I do. I did like “Captain Phillips”, “Gravity”, “The Impossible”, “All The Presidents Men”, “500 Days of Summer” just to name a few – and I often go to see films based on your recommendation (Prisoners) – or stay away from films based on your recommendation (Don Jon).

        And I’d be willing to bet the farm that if you listened to the “Man of Steel” score throughly that you’d love it! One thing I think we do disagree on are our opinions of scores and what they can offer a movie. A great score can really add to the experience and amplify the film. I loved “Man of Steel” largely due to the score and the experience it offered. I think Zimmer’s best work since “Gladiator” and “Dark Knight”. I also thought “Man of Steel” was excellently cast.

        Now that I think about it, it seems I love “Man of Steel” for the same reasons you love “Skyfall”. There are plot holes in these scripts that we’re both willing to forgive. In “Man of Steel” why is Superman fighting Zod in the city, and putting many lives at-risk with all the destruction to the buildings? Why do we keep bumping into product placements, like Sears and I-Hop? lol. I acknowledge these things, yet I do not care. I love the film all the same.

        And how does Bond get shot, fall off the bridge, and yet survive with hardly an explanation? Why does M turn on that flashlight to get spotted by Silva? You forgive these silly details b/c you simply love the film, regardless.

        So, I guess I get it. I was just so disappointed b/c I wanted another serious and gritty installment like “Casino Royale” – which has a 95% RT score and a 7.9 IMDB rating; but really, I don’t care about those ratings.

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