Skyfall Made in: UK, USA Language: English Director: Sam Mendes Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney Year: 2012
Synopsis: James Bond (Daniel Craig) is dispatched to Istanbul, Turkey to recover a top secret computer hard drive. The drive contains the identities of every NATO operative working undercover inside terrorist groups all over the world.
And why MI-6 decided it was a good idea to keep all this information on a SONY Vaio laptop is anyone's guess.
While hunting down the missing drive, Bond is accidentally shot by Eve (Naomie Harris), a fellow operative. Thought to be dead, Bond escapes to some tropical island to try out retirement.
With the hard drive now in the hands of a dangerous cyberterrorist, bad things immediately start happening in London. MI-6 headquarters is bombed, and Bond's superior, M (Judi Dench), frantically tries to pursue the culprit.
The British government has also opened a formal investigation of M's actions during the botched operation, and she finds herself facing big political trouble. The chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), is asking her to save face by stepping down. M refuses, but has precious little time to resolve the crisis before the mess will inevitably bubble over.
But all the ruckus back home causes Bond to give up a carefree life of boozing and womanizing, and he returns to active duty as a Double-O… where he continues doing those things anyway (only wearing a tuxedo).
After tracking down the hard drive thief, Bond comes across the mysterious Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe). She leads Bond to the reclusive Raúl Silva (Javier Bardem), a cyber-criminal mastermind with personal ties to MI-6… and a nasty history with M herself.
Since Silva always seems to be one step ahead of the British Secret Service, Bond attempts a bold, unorthodox plan to take out Silva for good.
Remarks: Skyfall is as entertaining and action-driven as you'd expect from a Bond film. The cast is excellent, with Ralph Fiennes being a fine addition to the story. Also noteworthy is Ben Whishaw as Q, the whiz behind Bond's gadgetry. Q is a younger man this time round, which puts an entirely new spin on his relationship with 007.
The stuntwork and action sequences are all expertly crafted and executed, and there's a solid sense of realism about them. If there are digital effects (and I'm sure there are quite a few), they're practically seamless, allowing the audience to focus on the story instead of being distracted by some fake-looking gobbledygook under bad lighting.
The dialogue is often witty, the chemistry between all the actors is very fluid and natural, and the references to classic Bond films are clever. It definitely feels good to see that Aston Martin DB5 again.
However, Skyfall is not without its flaws. The Bond girls hardly factor in to the story, and Albert Finney's character is kind of pointless. And although it's great to see Javier Bardem ham it up as the main villain, the character itself falls short. The type of villain he plays is not unique to the Bond universe, and there's not even a freakish #2 henchman!
But the biggest problems I had involve two items. The first details the theme of the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. In Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (which are basically one storyline divided into two parts), we see the introduction of Bond as an agent who just earned his Double-O status. He's the new secret weapon in the post 9/11 world, ready to take on the baddies of the 21st Century!
just one movie later in Skyfall, Bond is depicted as an outdated, old-fashioned guy who's ill-equipped to take on the same type of baddies that we saw him pummeling in the last two movies. What the hell? We just got to know the man, and all of a sudden we're supposed to believe he's out of fashion?
The second issue I had was that Skyfall, in addition to all my gripes about my first point, is pretty much a drawn-out tangent about Bond's origin. We have all the background we need from the first two Daniel Craig Bond movies…but this third one only leaves us with even more set-up material. When will this series actually hit its stride and get started?
Who would like this movie: This one's obviously for you if you're a big fan of Bond movies. Although I'd argue it's better than Quantum of Solace, I have to say I was little disappointed with Skyfall. Director Sam Mendes deserves credit for doing bold stuff, but the results are largely hit-or-miss.
The darker tone is consistent with the previous Craig era Bond movies, and for the most part this harder-edged take on 007 is working. But man, they have got to stop with the origin storytelling and start showing that gun barrel sequence in the beginning of the movie instead of at the end.