At the Movies: Skyfall

“Skyfall” is the 23rd installment in the James Bond movie series. Twenty-third film. Considering that most movie franchises crap out after three films and either disappear or get rebooted, it’s amazing that 007 has lasted so long. It’s also impressive that it has continued to perform strongly through multiple cast changes for the lead character.

Perhaps most astonishing is how the franchise continues to pull off quality product. “Skyfall” is one of the best films in the series’ 50 year history. When was the last time you said that about, say, a Paul McCartney album?

Apparently Ian Fleming knew what he was doing.

The super spy’s latest adventure begins with a spectacular action sequence set in Turkey, where agents Bond (Daniel Craig) and Eve (Naomie Harris) are chasing down a thief who has made off with a computer disc containing the identities of all the MI6 agents working undercover. The scene ends with Bond falling to his apparent death, at which point Adele breaks into the show’s theme song.

Back in London, M (Judi Dench) is facing tough questions from Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes)  over recent events. The loss of such sensitive information may cost M her job. Things only get worse when MI6 headquarters is blown up, which forces Bond to come out of hiding to help out his old boss.

The villain of the piece turns out to be Silva (Javier Bardem), a former top agent for M. Silva feels he has been treated badly by his former employer and has come seeking revenge. But he’s far more dangerous than a disgruntled postal worker.

“Skyfall” has everything you expect in a Bond film — exotic locations, sexy women, sexy spy cars, gadgets, gunfights, Komodo dragons, shaken martinis. What it doesn’t have is a power-mad villain with a complex evil scheme. This is a simple revenge story with far more personal stakes than most Bond tales. It’s rather refreshing.

Craig continues to be the most compelling Bond since Sean Connery. Bardem plays one of the more interesting — and certainly the most sympathetic — of Bond bad guys. At times it was a tough call deciding who to root for.

I’m not a big Bond fan — I’m not even sure if I’ve seen all 23 films, I certainly couldn’t tell you what most of them were about — so I can’t say where this one ranks on the Bond movie scale. But “Skyfall” is a fun time by any action movie standards and worth the price of admission for the opening chase alone.

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One response to “At the Movies: Skyfall

  1. I really liked this movie because it is a break from the Bond formula in the ways you mentioned and some others. Bardem was great as a formidable but deeply conflicted villain, and the story probably has more character development of Bond himself than all other Bond movies put together.

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