Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Skyfall - ****

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Starring: Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes

Review:  James Bond movies are always difficult to review.  They have to be taken into account as stand alone pieces, but to ignore what we already know of Bond and his story is to ignore so much of what makes the character on screen who he is.  Starting with ‘Casino Royale’ they makers of the James Bond movies have really tried to re-establish the genre.  While maintaining some of the “cheekiness” that has made Bond so identifiable, they have also tried to steer the films into the darker arena.

Skyfall represents a new page being turned for Bond bringing him nearly to the point where we always know him to be.  Along the way the film makes subtle nods to the Bond we previously knew, while showing enough to prove to us that this one is different.

As far as Bond movies go, each actor has a different take on the titular super spy.  All bring something new and unique to the table adding their own little piece of history to the character.^  What typically separates one Bond movie from the other is the plot and the villain.  In both cases, Skyfall is, as Bond would say, “top draw.”

^Please note I do not include Timothy Dalton when I say this, sorry Timmy.

The plot that hits close to home involving domestic terrorism and soldiers who are forgotten by their countries.  The villain, played expertly by Javier Bardem, is a new one to Bond.  While he has a stated purpose it seems he is much more like the Joker than he is Dr. No.  Bardem’s villain is intent on causing chaos and making MI6 feel more vulnerable than they knew they were capable of.

Everything is planned out to a “T” and paints Bond into a corner he rarely gets backed into.  The end result is a necessity for Bond to reveal bits and pieces about his childhood that were previously unmentioned in the lore.  

It’s a risky proposition.  Perhaps Bond is so great because he is who he is, makes no apologies and doesn’t need to explain why.  Perhaps Bond could be a more intriguing character with more depth if his past were known and explored.  It’s a shaky proposition for such an established franchise, but one that is handled with calculated maneuvers by the Oscar winner Mendes.

All in all, the exploration of the depth of Bond was a success.  For such a character driven franchise the film never really delved into its character.  Bond never showed remorse for killing, for sleeping with women and dispatching them like playing cards, or for putting his country in imminent danger time and again.  He has always been able to talk his way out of it, and putting things right in the end was enough to make up for his shortfall.  But not this Bond.

Craig and Mendes’ version is different.  He and others hold him accountable for what he does.  They also explore who he is underneath the tuxedo.  The adversity he goes through doesn’t provide a convenient point for one-liners.  Each movie isn’t taken into account seperately with a Bond seemingly unaffected by previous events.  All things build his character and show some true depth to a new James Bond that we should all enjoy getting acquainted with.

This movie is definitely worth your time.

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