“Skyfall” is the 23rd James Bond movie, and is a character study of a weathered and worn former super-stud of a secret agent, falling out of touch with modern 21st Century bureaucracy and technological “progress.” This time Oscar winning director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) takes his place at the reins of the venerated spy series, giving us a more candid, sober, yet no-less-fun Bond offering.
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Albert Finney
Producers: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Screenwriters: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Rating: PG-13 for sexual situations, violence and strong language.
Running time: 143 Minutes
Release date: November 9, 2012 (United States)
When James Bond (Daniel Craig) botches a mission and is nearly killed in an action packed opening sequence, he hits the bottle and pills hard, feeling betrayed by his beloved British intelligence agency, MI6. But when he sees that the spy agency’s headquarters, including his boss M (Judi Dench), is under attack, he once again gets drawn back into the world of shadowy spy games.
The new Chairman of Intelligence and Security, Gareth Mallory (coolly played by Ralph Fiennes), is quite displeased when it is revealed that a list containing the names and locations of undercover NATO agents is stolen. The blame falls on M, whom he abruptly places on an early retirement plan. After buying some time, she puts all her chips on 007, with whom she shares a love/hate relationship. They’ve also both been deemed as having outlived their usefulness, and out of touch with the new era of cyber-security and espionage.
Skyfall boasts the usual mix of exotic locales, as Bond attempts to track down one of the more oddball arch villains ever, Raoul Silva (who is played by always fun to watch Javier Bardem). Not surprisingly, Shanghai and Macau are featured, mirroring the warming political and economic relations between Britain and China.
The usual beautiful women show up, including the exotic Séverine (played by smoldering Eurasian actress Bérénice Marlohe). This bond movie however, is less about glitz and glamour, and more about the relationship between surrogate mother M, and her unreliable favorite agent 007. The result is some refreshingly heartfelt dialogue, and even a trip to Bond’s familial manse in the Scottish moors, where they make their final stand against the main baddie Silva.
The new stripped down Bond has less toys to play with (his famous Walther PPK and a radio is all that he is given), and Skyfall has smartly eschewed some of the more over-the-top gadgetry and silliness of the previous Bond films. Perhaps this is a sign that the more gritty direction of the series, hinted at in the excellent “Casino Royale,” is here to stay.
As the ending credits customarily promised, “James Bond will be back,” I couldn’t help but think that he already is.
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