Skyfall (2012) – Review

3 1/2 Stars


After the glorious heights of Casino Royale and the sobering low of Quantum of Solace, I’m happy to report the series is back on track with Skyfall. Daniel Craig, who now fully embodies and absolutely owns the role of James Bond is the sturdy anchor that holds this gargantuan action-thriller together. This is an undeniably well mounted and produced modern epic. On a technical level Skyfall is an astounding piece of physical filmmaking, the staging, acting, cinematography and editing are all top-notch and worthy of Oscar attention. Longtime fans of the franchise with be delighted by the small homages to Bond mythology sprinkled throughout, making it hard not to be swayed by the charms of a series that you grew up with.

M (Judi Dench) is under fire by her political superiors for a security breach that leads to the bombing of MI-6 and the loss of a file containing the identities of covert agents currently undercover in terrorist cells the world over. Bond is out of practice but on the job to clear M’s name and recover the list from a shadow figure that seems to have ties within the government agency. The storyline is arguably a recycling of the ‘knock list’ plot device from the first Mission Impossible and the disgruntled ex-agent villain from the series’ own Goldeneye. Yet, the style and tone here is far more serious and topical.

As if working directly from Christopher Nolan’s playbook director Sam Mendes brings a biting sense of realism to a once cartoonish character and world. No longer is the villain plotting world domination from deep within an impregnable hideaway. Instead we are presented with a devastatingly realized former agent turned terrorist, in the form of the sexually ambiguous, Raoul Silva. Javier Bordem brings his steely focus to the juicy role, there is depth, darkness and themes presented here that have never been explored in the 50 year history of the franchise.

This is one of the most handsome looking films of the year, highlighted by a brilliantly mounted fight scene that takes place in a backlit glass room. These artistic touches are a welcomed bit of creative flourish that serve equally to cover up plotholes in the script.

As I sat there and watched Daniel Craig sprint across the screen, I realized the Bond pictures have been a huge and eagerly awaited event every couple of years for the past quarter century of my life. My introduction to the character was back in 1987 with Timothy Dalton’s inaugural entry The Living Daylights. So began my long devotion to a franchise that has delivered some of the great action set-pieces and double entendres of my film going career. That’s truly what separates the pre-Craig Bond pictures, those earlier plots were essentially a series of setups that typically served as a clothesline to hang three memorable stunts/chase or action sequences on. Now it seems that the attention once paid to gimmicks and inventive gadgets is being aimed at scripting and characters’ emotional development. Skyfall is James Bond in the post Dark Knight era, for better or worse.

Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench

5 thoughts on “Skyfall (2012) – Review

  1. I believe Skyfall was a good movie but not as good as Casino or Quantum. Javier Bardem did a great performance as Silva. I felt very uncomfortable at times by the villian and his encounters with Bond. Overall, it was a very good movie and paid tribute to 50 years of Bond.

  2. Well put, Jason. I think Skyfall is what the producers have been aiming for: an A-list production rather than a B-film with an A-list budget. Personally, I like Craig in the role as Bond. The man can act. That’s not to put previous Bond actors down, but the producers are trying to deliver scripts that require the actors to do more than simply run, shoot, and kill. I think it creates a realism that is sorely needed in the franchise.

    I loved Pierce Brosnan in the role of Bond, but his last two films edged toward the absurd. With the reboot of Bond starring Daniel Craig, the producers are trying to up the realism and thereby deliver a better product. No doubt, this new direction will continue to generate controversy among Bond fans.

    1. Skyfall is no more realistic than any other Bond film, it is a bit darker though. I argue that the gadgets and fun are Bond, and taking them out makes this not Bond. It’s s good movie, I’ll admit, but not great and I already got this movie from Nolan’s Batman trilogy, why do I want that carried over into the Bond franchise? Craig’s Bond has shed all of the frills and thrills of the Bonds before, leaving a hulking brut that must resort to shear force in any situation. And Q is now basically tech support? Skyfall wastes both Q and Moneypenny. The more I think about the film, the less I like it.

      Jason put on a happy face when he wrote this review, he has far more complaints about SKyfall than this would lead you to believe, and I’m gonna get them out of him on the next podcast :)

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