5 Stars: “Skyfall”

From imdb.com:

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

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TL/DR: One of the best Bond movies ever. Top three. I’ll be buying this for sure, and will likely see it at least once more in the theater. Well worth the price of admission.

Stars:
Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Bérénice MarloheAlbert Finney, Ben Whishaw

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I like you better without your Beretta.

Bérénice Marlohe

Bérénice Marlohe

I’ve been a fan of James Bond movies my whole life. Well, as long as I can remember, anyway. Since I first saw Sean Connery in the trademark suit with the smile and the Walther PPK… He was the epitome of class, the man’s man with the coolest gadgets, living the life of which every teenage boy dreams. From the boats to the cars to the chases… it was all so far from what I was experiencing as a a kid growing up middle-class in the burbs.

As the years went by and Roger Moore took over the role, I continued to enjoy the movies, though they became progressively more fantastic (in the sense of being unrealistic). Moore as Bond wasn’t quite as cool, for me, at least. I still enjoyed the movies, but there was a sense of “Oh yeah, what kind of crazy crap can happen in this one?” rather than “Let’s see how this dude uses his wits and charm to get himself out of a sticky situation.”

Judi Dench

Judi Dench

Timothy Dalton did a reasonable job as Bond, but then it was on to the actor everyone hoped would revitalize the franchise, Pierce Brosnan. The man it was meant for, way back when Moore still had the title spot. And to his credit, Brosnan did revitalize the franchise, bringing back the coolness of Connery without going over the top like Moore. We had the ‘everyman who just happens to be wearing a really nice suit’ guy back, and were happy.

Until Die Another Day, but let’s leave that for another discussion.

Then, out of the blue, here comes Daniel Craig. I’d seen him years before in a couple of my favorite movies, Road to Perdition and Layer Cake, and he even had a part in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. So I knew that I liked the guy, but was he Bond? Could he pull it off? Casino Royale clearly answered that question with a resounding yes, and he only continued that success with Quantum of Solace.

Then it comes to Skyfall. We’d all been waiting four years for a new Bond movie – thanks to MGM’s seemingly-perpetual money woes – and it looked like it was worth the wait. Great stunts, great villain, intriguing story (just what in the bloody blue *$)@ is “Skyfall”, anyway?)… I couldn’t wait to see it.

Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem

And it’s fantastic, folks. I can’t give away much without a huge spoiler alert, but the villain is believable – love Javier Bardem – without being too over the top, the girls are hot, the explosions are phenomenal (my brother called one of them the best explosion he’d seen in a movie since Pirates of the Caribbean) and the acting is top-notch, from everyone.

Craig makes us feel his pain and anguish, the difficult of the choices he’s forced to make, and even the incomparable Judi Dench’s M cracks a bit and shows a more personal side than she has before. The rest do amazing jobs, including the new Q, Ben Whishaw, who also worked with Craig on the film Layer Cake. Ralph Fiennes, perhaps best known as Lord Voldemort, although I also enjoyed him as Harry in the little-seen In Bruges, does a good job as the new liaison to MI6 from the PM’s office.

Naomie Harris

Naomie Harris

Speaking of Pirates of the Carribean, our newest Bond girl Naomie Harris surprised the hell out of me. Not with her acting, which was fine, but with who she was. I didn’t recognize her at all, though I should have. Aside from playing in the great zombie movie 28 Days Later, Harris was also Tia Dalma/Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and the followup, At World’s End, some of my favorite movies ever.

I think the thing I like most about this film is that the producers and writers seem to have realized that things were flying a bit far afield from where Ian Fleming had originally intended Bond to be. If you read the books, Bond was never intended as a sexy, suave, charming, gadget-riddled super-spy. He was supposed to be ‘a blunt instrument.’ Sure, he could do all those things, but that’s not who he was, not the core of the character.

In Skyfall, we see more of that character, without all the trappings. What made him who he was, and how we got to where he is. The producers gave us plenty of nods to the older movies – even the door to M’s office, at the end – and somehow brought the series back to its roots without losing the modern feel. I felt like they had found a way to get to the core of what Bond movies are supposed to be, without denigrating everything that had come before.

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes

Some folks won’t like this as much, because it’s a more character-heavy story than action-centered. There’s car chases, action, fights, explosions, guns, girls, a couple gadgets and everything else, but it’s mainly about the characters and what they go through. I find this sort of story much more appealing than the standard action fare – though I enjoy that, too – but some people will likely think this movie’s a bit slow at times. I didn’t feel that way at all, but I recognize that I like the build-up of the scenes, the cinematography, the way the music affects the feeling the film gives you – all of it. For me, the best films are these kind – that make me feel for the characters, rather than the constant explosions and action.

For my money, Skyfall was one of the top three Bond movies of all time, and one of Craig’s best performances. The other top two movies, for reference, are Thunderball and For Your Eyes Only (with a close tie between it and The Spy Who Loved Me). I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and will likely be seeing it at least once more in the theaters. I highly recommend it.  It is a genuinely fitting tribute to 50 years of Bond.

2016-10-26T19:04:25+00:00

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