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Skyfall

November 12, 2012

James Bond: Youth is not a guarantee of innovation. 

James Bond is back for an exciting 23rd adventure in the popular spy franchise.  This time around, Bond (Daniel Craig) battles the double-crossing, blonde-haired Silva (Javier Bardem).  Skyfall is a good film, but not the best of the Bond flicks.  It’s a thousand times better than Quantum of Solace, but not as gripping as Casino Royale, which is my favorite Bond film to date.  However, Skyfall sets itself up for a franchise that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight! Craig is compelling, Bardem is menacing, and Judi Dench is… aging!  Read on, folks!

What makes the film so compelling is its gripping set pieces.  The action is thrilling, albeit unrealistic, but quite entertaining.  Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road, Jarhead) takes the audience all over the world from England to Shanghai and so on.  There is one scene in particular in the middle of the movie taking place in the London subways that blew me away.  [Spoiler Alert] Bond is chasing the (disguised) Silva through the subway station that leads to a thrilling chase with explosions-galore and a train nearly crushing Bond when he is in the sewers.  I’ve seen 25+ movies in the theaters since The Dark Knight Rises, and I have to say that this was the most tense scene in a film since the (first) Bane-Batman brawl in the sewers.  It’s ironic how both impressive action scenes take place in the sewers, and the villain in both films have creepy voices!

Skyfall runs around 2 hours and 20 minutes, which is way too long.  If I were an editor on the film, I could’ve cut a good 20-30 minutes — primarily the extended scenes where M played by Judi Dench drones on and on about useless information that doesn’t benefit the audience in the slightest or affect the outcome of the film.  Those who have seen it may disagree, which is understandable, but was reading her late husband’s poem at a court hearing really necessary? 

Daniel Craig returns in the titular role of James Bond.  Craig is, in my opinion, the greatest actor to portray Bond — just barely passing Sean Connery.  Craig’s serious and mature take on Bond is darker and more sentimental than it was in the previous two films.  Don’t worry though, we still get a classic Bond catchphrase thrown in there.  Judi Dench returns as M., and spends most of the film feeling guilty for a bombing at MI6 that was indirectly her fault.  I’m not a huge Dench fan, but I’m nearly 17 — what do you expect?

Javier Bardem is PERFECT as the menacing Silva.  Not perfect in the MTV Movie Award kind of way, perfect in the Academy Award kind of way.  Bardem is no stranger to playing the baddie — he gained wide critical praise for his amazing performance as the antagonist in No Country For Old Men.  While Bardem is clearly not as brutal in Skyfall as he was in that, Silva is a damn good Bond villain.  

If you’re planning to see this movie, make sure you do so in IMAX.  Though it wasn’t shot that way, the picture fills up the entire screen and has numerous scenes that are stunningly rich in this format, primarily a 30-second segment with a bunch of high-up shots of Shanghai.  

Skyfall is a wonderful Bond film with few flaws; it will be a nice addition to my Blu-ray collection.  

Skyfall: 4 out of 5

 

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