Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Movie Review: Skyfall (2012)


Daniel Craig as James Bond Skyfall
Daniel Craig as James Bond
The movie opens with Bond on the pursuit of a document that has a list of MI6 agents. This is an extended chase scene, first on motorcycles and concluding on a moving train. Bond gets mistakenly shot by his fellow agent, Eve (Naomie Harris) and is presumed dead.

Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent is determined to ruin MI6 and especially M (Judi Dench). He ends up blowing up the MI6 building right in front of M. He is so effective in his plans that he ensures that she is actually present when it happens.

Bond is forced to come out of his self-imposed exile. Bond fails the fitness exams and is still assigned to work. There is a new Q (Ben Whishaw) on the block. Q is much younger than Bond and considers Bond to be too old for active duty.

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The next section of the movie is set in Shanghai and has been shot beautifully. We meet the requisite femme fatale of the movie, Severine (Bérénice Marlohe).

The next action scene is set in a nightclub and has a nice nod to the crocodile jumping scene from Live and Let Die (Roger Moore, 1973).

Bond and Silva meet and Silva shows his admiration for not only Bond’s intellect but also his brawn. Bond quickly dispatches Silva’s henchmen and takes him into custody.

Naomie Harris as Eve Skyfall
Naomie Harris as Eve
Q tries to break into Silva’s laptop and discovers that it was latter’s plan to get caught all along. Silva escapes after killing a couple of agents. Bond stops Silva from murdering M, who once again makes good with his escape.

Bond takes M to his home “Skyfall” to prevent further collateral damage and to finish Silva once and for all.

Sam Mendes is an exceptional director and is responsible for two of my all-time favorite movies: American Beauty and Road to Perdition. It comes as no surprise that Skyfall is one of the best Bond movies. In addition to the usual gadgets/guns, the iconic Aston Martin DB5 also makes a comeback.

Aston Martin DB5 Daniel Craig James Bond Skyfall
Aston Martin DB5
The cinematography by Roger Deakins is spectacular in the Shanghai sequence and in the final section of the movie set at Bond’s home.

The movie has already won the Golden Globe award for Best Original Song (Adele and Paul Epworth) and the BAFTA award for Original Music (Thomas Newman) and Outstanding British Film. The movie has been nominated for 5 Oscars as well.

This is Daniel Craig’s third outing as Bond and he is very good. I have seen Casino Royale and am yet to watch Quantum of Solace. I enjoyed his performance in the former and this performance is even better.

Craig is an excellent actor and he brings a lot of depth to his performance. Craig may not have the dashing looks of Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore. To me, Craig is on par with Sean Connery as being the best Bond.

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Javier Bardem as Silva Skyfall
Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem in Skyfall
Craig’s Bond is the most three-dimensional I have seen yet. It is a fitting way to celebrate the 50th year of the Bond movie series.

Javier Bardem oozes pure menace as Silva. He is aided by some great CGI work, especially in the scene where he explains his sufferings to M. He is one of the best Bond villains in a long time.

The supporting cast fills out their roles nicely. Special mention must be made of Ben Whishaw as Q and Albert Finney as Kincade.

Ben makes a good successor to Desmond Llewelyn as Q. It was fun to watch Q and Bond develop their chemistry over the course of the movie.

Albert Finney as Kincade Skyfall
Albert Finney as Kincade
Albert Finney is one of the best character actors around and makes a good impression as Bond’s mentor.

Craig’s scenes with Ben and Albert are among the best in the movie and sparkle with great chemistry between the actors.

Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench and Naomi Harris are good in their roles as Gareth Mallory, M and Eve respectively.

Helen McCrory has a brief cameo as Clair Dowar MP. Sherlock Holmes fans might remember her from Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking.


Ben Whishaw as Q Skyfall
Ben Whishaw as Q

The film does suffer from a couple of drawbacks:
I felt that the movie was heavily inspired from Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies. The movie was like a reverse walkthrough of the trilogy. The scenes where Bond’s age catches up with him and he fails his tests and is being made fun of by Q reminded me of similar scenes with Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises. Silva’s plan to deliberately get caught and then making his escape from the MI6 building was similar to the Joker’s in The Dark Knight. Finally, the scene where Bond’s home “Skyfall” is burnt to the ground reminded me of the scene in Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne’s manor is destroyed in the fire set off by the League of Shadows.

----------------- Spoilers Ahead -------------
If you have not seen the movie yet, I would recommend that you skip this section.
Bond is at least partly responsible for M’s death. If M had stayed hidden inside the hidden tunnel/basement under “Skyfall”, she would most probably have lived through the day.
----------------- End of spoilers ----------------

The movie is a must watch for James Bond fans and readers who enjoy action/thriller movies. Daniel Craig makes a great Bond and I look forward to the next Bond movie that reportedly reunites him with Sam Mendes.

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10 comments:

  1. Nice review, B2B. As a Bond nut, I have several problems with Skyfall; while I admire it for the reasons you state, the wholesale copying of the batman films irritates me, especially when Bond gets his own Wayne manor and Alfred at the end! Silva is also doing a Joker/two face. Once, Bond led the way while others copied but now we have Quantum which copies Bourne and Skyfall which copies Nolan. I'm also annoyed by Bond's failure in every department. If i were Mallory at the end, I'd be firing him not giving him a new job. In casino Royale, Bond is raw but clever, resourceful and unstoppable. here, his great plan is to nip off to an isolated house in the middle of nowhere. Silva gets what he wants, especially as he shows he is happy to die. Epic fail 007! Bond's job is to save the girl - yes, he sometimes fails but Severine's death is unforgivable and M's is all owing to his stupidity. So, looks good, strives to be Nolan, but fails. casino Royale is tons better.,

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  2. Can't wait to see Skyfall! I have been a James Bond fan since I was a kid and I have heard so many great things about the movie. Great review.

    -James

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    1. Thanks James. I am sure you will enjoy Skyfall.

      B2B.

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  3. I am looking forward to this one. And I think Craig makes the best Bond yet.

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    1. Agree with you John. Craig is my personal favorite too.

      B2B.

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  4. After finally watching it, I have to say that I was very impressed. As a Bond fan, all of the subtle (and not so subtle) references to the classic Bond flicks were done so well. I found it “Shocking, positively shocking.” when Bond used Aston Martin DB5’s machine guns. I did not expect the film to go that far with the Goldfinger references, one of my favorite scenes from the film.
    I mostly agree that M probably would have survived if Bond did not take her to Skyfall, although Silva had control of almost anything electronic and could have killed her anyway. Either way, it made for a great finale.

    -James

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    Replies
    1. I have to ask you: Which actor is your favorite Bond so far...

      B2B.

      Delete
    2. Based on nostalgia and because he was the first, I have to say Sean Connery. However, Daniel Craig has given the best performance of any Bond in this and Casino Royale, so In terms of character depth, Craig wins.

      -James

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    3. Agree with you. Sean and Daniel are my favorites with Brosnan a close second. Roger Moore's version became too campy.

      B2B.

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