‘Skyfall’ Delivers All The Goods-And Much More

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Daniel Craig made his stunning debut in Casino Royale, returned for the lackluster Quantum of Solace, and now, nearly five years later, he picks up his revolver and puts on his charm once again in Skyfall.  Not only is this latest Bond adventure the best of the three, it is the most personal and the least predictable.  Skyfall takes the oh-so-familiar Bond formula and improves it, setting the bar high for future Bond films and action films in general.

Bond goes missing after a fatal accident, only to show up in England after a terrorist attack forces M and her agents into hiding. Bond sets off to find the person responsible, eventually coming face- to-face with a cunning new adversary. Bond will have to be on his A game if he is to defeat this highly intelligent killer.

Daniel Craig returns as James Bond, our titular hero, and he delivers what may be his most inspiring performance as the iconic secret agent. He tackles each new obstacle thrown his way with the same grim expression(and occasional smug smile) that help define the character. This performance will no doubt earn him at least a few more outings as Bond. Javier Bardem steps into the role of Silva, the most sinister Bond villain to date. His smiling, almost jovial demeanor is certainly misleading, considering the fact he’ll be chuckling one moment and shooting at you the next. Bardem does a fantastic job making Silva charming and evil, but he also gives us a complex character with a grim backstory. Judi Dench shines as M, and she takes full advantage of her expanded role. Dench gives us a glimpse at M’s softer side, but not enough of one to stray out of character. Naomie Harris plays Eve Moneypenny, and her performance is the only one that disappoints. Her character is flat and uninteresting, so naturally Harris didn’t have much to work with.

Skyfall is the most personal Bond film to date, making it the most emotional and the most heartfelt as well. ‘Emotional’ and ‘heartfelt’ aren’t  words that normally describe a James Bond movie, but in this instance they work. Director Sam Mendes gives audiences a deeper look into Bond and M and why they think and act the way they do, providing viewers with a better understanding of the characters. The various exchanges between Bond and M make the movie, and they are often more fun to watch than the action scenes.

The film plays upon Bond’s “resurrection” too much. He is literally gone for two minutes of the movie, and his return is neither dramatic nor significant in any way. The film would not have been affected had a few related lines of dialogue been omitted.

Another quibble I have concerns the movie’s tendency to throw in characters who ultimately serve no purpose.  Moneypenny and Kincade(the gamekeeper of Bond’s childhood home) are underdeveloped, bland characters who could have been removed from the film. Bond, M, and Silva are such rich, interesting characters that it is disappointing when uninspired, boring characters are thrown in to fill some hole the filmmakers see.

However, these are minor flaws in an otherwise engaging and suspenseful moviegoing experience. Sam Mendes has given us a winner with Skyfall, and it will be exciting to see where he takes the franchise next, should he return for a sequel.

4/5 stars

 

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