Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench
After a mishap on a top-secret mission in Istanbul, James Bond (Craig) is critically wounded and presumed dead. Unfortunately, heads will need to roll on the heels of the failed mission – and the first head to roll is that of M (Dench), who is set up for two months of so-called “assisted retirement planning” by the shady new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Garreth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). In the midst of this tumultuous time for the British Secret Service, M’s personal office at the MI6 comes under attack by an unknown cyber terrorist (Bardem) who threatens to expose secret agents across the world. In a moment of desperation, Bond emerges from the shadows and returns to his roots in order to protect his long-time employers and terminate the elaborate schemes of a modern-day malefactor.
The Story: “Skyfall” strips down the Bond legacy to its very roots, focusing intimately on the personal life and upbringing of its lead character and his relationship with M. Audiences should quickly become involved in the lives of the characters, creating a real, well, bond between them. Throughout the first half of the movie, the villain does not appear on screen, waging a psychological battle with MI6 that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats before he is revealed later on. After said revelation, the movie has a different feel to it, pulling the audience into a more physical type warfare. “Skyfall” pulls the audience in from the opening scene and keeps its attention until the final curtain.
The Acting: If you haven’t fully embraced Daniel Craig as the James Bond yet – if you’re still clinging on to Connery or Moore or Brosnan – “Skyfall” will win you over 100%. Craig immediately establishes on-screen chemistry with every other actor in the film, but also creates rapport with the audience in, perhaps, the most sincere, personal take on the Bond character in the history of the film franchise. Javier Bardem is pure evil as Silva, with an incredible blend of violence, intellectualism, and flamboyance that makes his character brilliantly creepy and one of the best Bond villains of all time. Ben Whishaw takes over the beloved role of Quartermaster, providing a younger, fresher take on Q, which, as pointed out in the bonus features, makes perfect sense in this day and age. This movie is largely about M, however, and Judi Dench knocks it out of the park as the unconventional Bond girl.
The Genre: Even some of the biggest fans of espionage may have grown tired of the Bond franchise. “It’s the same thing over and over,” they say in unison. “Gadgets, girls, cars, explosions. Nothing ever changes. It’s not realistic and it’s not cool anymore.” Let it be known: “Skyfall” is not your daddy’s 007. Gadgets are all but eliminated, the sexual innuendo has been greatly diminished, and there is some real substance to this story. It’s not just the typical “bang, bang, bang,” explosions-everywhere mumbo jumbo that some have come to expect. You can’t just turn off your brain for this one, either, like you could for many of the other 22 Bond flicks. It’s a new day and it’s a new 007.
The beautiful thing about “Skyfall” is that Sam Mendes and company have embraced the legacy of James Bond from the past 50 years, given several nods to past movies (“Goldeneye” and “Goldfinger,” most notably), and taken the franchise in a new direction – almost to the extent of a total reboot. It is James Bond, but it’s a different James Bond. A big part of the movie focuses on a court hearing where British magistrates straight up tell M that it’s a different world out there and there is no longer a need for super spies. M acknowledges the differences between today and the Golden Age of Espionage, but she is willing to stick with her man, 007, because, she believes, there is still a necessity for secret agents. “Skyfall” emphatically speaks to her point as Bond is able to adapt to his new environment of cyber terrorism in today’s world. There’s action from start to finish, there is broad, exotic scenery, an amazing cast with tremendous acting, fancy cars, powerful women, heated conflict between main characters, a complex and intricate plot, one of the best theme songs of the entire series, and an emotional, moving conclusion that will keep even the biggest Bond haters waiting in anticipation for the 24th installment. Old dog, new tricks – and “Skyfall” does everything nearly-flawlessly, making it the best James Bond movie of all time. You may also be interested in: “Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection” (2012), “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” (2011), “The Bourne Identity” (2002).
Blu-ray bonus features:
– Audio in: English, English Descriptive Audio, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and some other language you probably won’t need to use.
– Subtitles in: English, Spanish, Danish, Suomi, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish, Estonian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Chinese
– Option audio commentary and subtitles
– “Shooting Bond”: 14 featurettes that focus on Bond’s return to the basics. Bond, M, Q, the women, the cars, the villains, the opening credits, the action, the exotic locales – “Shooting Bond” covers all the bases.
– “Skyfall Premiere”:
– Theatrical trailer
– Soundtrack promotional spot
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Running time: 143 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for “intense violence sequences throughout, some sexuality, language, and smoking,” including mostly-implied violence and other physical abuse against women, alcoholism and implied prescription drug addition, several moderately-offensive religious references, one somewhat-mumbled use of the F-word, and one scene of awkward, potentially-homosexual dialogue.
Costars Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw
Blu-ray release date: February 12, 2013
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