Skyfall

In his 50th year of onscreen existence, James Bond proves he is more vibrant and vital than ever by offering an intense, state of the art action film; one that is both pointed and personal. More than any other Bond film to date, it has things to say about security, espionage and intelligence gathering in today’s world, while at the same time revealing more of the history and character of James Bond than ever before.

It’s brimming with car chases, shoot outs, and explosions but it also features well crafted, damaged characters complete with backstories and understandable motivations. “Skyfall” is that rare breed of action film. Full of exciting, pulse pounding set pieces, while also deriving tension from worthwhile dramatic content.

“Skyfall” begins with the loss of an encrypted hard drive.

The drive contains the placements and identities of hundreds of undercover agents not just from MI6, but from other NATO intelligence agencies around the globe. Obviously, the retrieval of such sensitive material is paramount, so secret agent 007 James Bond (Daniel Craig) engages in a high-speed chase after the man who took it… via car, motorcycle and train. The chase has disastrous conclusion however. It culminates in Bond being accidentally shot by a fellow agent, plummeting from an enormous train trestle into a river below, and left for dead.

For a brief time he stays off the grid, recuperating and “enjoying” life. But when the terrorists who seized the hard drive bomb MI6 headquarters, he reports back for active duty. The injuries he sustained, his advancing age, and the layoff he took have diminished his skills, and he has difficulty re-certifying. However shaky he is, he’s put back in the field regardless… but this leaves him vulnerable when he eventually meets the man behind the attack. Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) is a flamboyant criminal mastermind with a very personal ax to grind with M (Judi Dench). Always two steps ahead of MI6, Silva has gone to great lengths in order to exact his revenge, and now it’s up to Bond to stop him and protect M.

In Silva, Bardem has given us inarguably one of the greatest Bond villains of all time. My knee jerk reaction is to proclaim him the best immediately, but perhaps a cooling off period is prudent. He’s flamboyant and colorful in many ways, but decidedly (and wisely) low-key in others. His motivations are better established than any villain in Bond history, and Bardem obviously savors the role. The combination of those two factors will undoubtedly rocket him to the top of the 50-year-old list for many. The long shot where he slowly strolls into the movie, monolguing every step of the way, is simply one of the greatest Bond villain moments of all time.

Also undeniably amongst the best in the franchise’s history are “Skyfall”‘s action sequences. The pre-title chase is one for the ages, mixing a car chase, shoot outs, motorcycle stunt racing, a fist fight, a backhoe and eventually the tension filled sniper sequence. Along the way, they find a way to sprinkle in a Bond signature moment, one where he fixes his cuff after jumping into a destroyed train car. Things certainly don’t let up there, though. This film is Bond’s best showing as a martial artist ever, filled with the type of solid, practical martial arts that a true field agent would be trained in. No spinning reverse crescent kicks here, but tons of solid blocks, punches, takedowns, holds, and debilitating kicks to the legs. There are more major shoot outs, a foot chase through the subways of London, and eventually what amounts to a fiery, all out, small theatre conflict to keep the pulse racing throughout the film’s runtime. Strictly as an action movie, “Skyfall” is the best of the genre to date this year, and yes, I’ve seen “The Avengers”.

Mendes does more than just craft memorable action sequences though. He’s also created one of the most striking Bond films ever visually, as well. There are numerous shots that are so colorful or so dramatic that they beg to be turned into “Skyfall” desktop wallpapers. Even without the benefit of “exotic locales” (this is one of Bond’s least “Travelogue” outings) it really is some of the best cinematography in the entire series. Mendes highlights introspective moments via reflections in car windows, turns toss away transitional shots into memorable ones with neon lighting or the orange glow of a raging fire, and adds drama to poignant passages with some deft camera movement and clever shot angles. In “Skyfall”, the Bond series showcases what it can be with a solid, artistically minded director. And that is… excellent.

As a movie fan, I have no complaints whatsoever. Though it’s not a perfect film (I’d have dialed back some of Bardem’s character’s Oedipal issues a little, avoided a major movie cliché at the end, and maybe even turned down the fan service a notch), “Skyfall” is a first-rate action movie, bound for legendary status in the action genre. It’s well worth the price of admission and easily bound to be one of the best films of the year. As a Bond fan, I’m letting my impressions of the new Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) settle in, but I’m definitely a big fan of Ralph Fiennes’ Mallory. He was excellent, and the way they worked him in was very well done. My only mild complaint from the Bond fan perspective is that I do wish they would return some of fun to the life of Bond. Craig is the first Bond that I wouldn’t want to BE. Not that I wish the series would return to the campiness of the Roger Moore era, say, but there has to be a compromise zone somewhere where we can keep the great stories, action, and realism of the Craig’s Bond films and find a way to incorporate more of the joie de vivre that Brosnan, Moore and Connery had. Yes, it’s true that a killing machine like Bond probably wouldn’t actually revel in the glamorous high life as much as those Bonds did, and as such, Craig’s Bond is, again, more realistic. But he’s also a little less fun, and I hope the series finds its way to up that fun quotient again somehow.

That “Bond Geek” footnote aside, “Skyfall” is an intense, well written, well acted, well directed action movie that’s sure to please general audiences and Bond purists alike. It’s an intense and solidly dramatic film. An instant entrant to my 2012 top ten and a strong contender for movie of the year. The action genre is spilling over with the movie refuse of substandard plots, characters and generic direction. To find one as artfully crafted as this should be cause for celebration amongst all movie fans, not just the Bond faithful.

A++

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114 thoughts on “Skyfall

    • Thanks bro! :D We put a lot of work into that, I’m glad to hear it came out well from the listener perspective.

      This one really delivered. Still that kind of dark, intense Bond that Craig is known for… but the action scenes are mind-blowing, and Bardem’s Silva is… seriously, he’s just off the charts. :D

      • I like it… its growing on me. I held off until hearing it until I actually SAW the movie, so I’ve only heard it for a couple of days now. I like it a lot. I’m in no rush to call it the best of the series though or anything, as Im seeing some people say. Definitely a return to glory though for the Bond themes. :D Outside of their films, the last two themes (which I both liked) didnt register much!

  1. Damn my friend! You really like this one and even though I can’t wholly agree with you, I’m still glad for ya. In my opinion, it’s a very good Bond movie and probably the best action movie of the year, but not my favorite Bond of all-time. However, I definitely look forward to seeing what they can do with the rest of this franchise and hopefully, we don’t get anymore Quantum of Solace’s in the future. Good review, dude.

    • LOL. I have your review open in another tab now that I can get around to reading what everyone else had to say. :D

      I’m still not settled that this would be the best Bond of all time, I think Casino Royale is a more enjoyable watch… I’m right with you, I’m excited for the rest of Craig’s tenure, this was certainly a rebound movie after the last one. No doubt!

  2. Glad to see you loved this one as much as I did, posting my review today and giving it my 3rd 9/10 of the year (alongside The Dark Knight Rises and Perks of Being a Wallflower). Probably ranks as my third favorite Bond movie of all time after Casino Royale and Goldfinger, but that’s a respectable position indeed!

    • It IS respectable, and I’m debating myself whether it should wind up #2 for me or not. I’m not sure. Definitely at least #3 I think.

      Its super hard to surpass either of those two you mention… theyre both great. They also both have a little more Bond spirit. This one I still found to be very drak and serious in comparison with the rest of the canon.

      Not necessarily that it should be penalized for that…

      I’ll have to check out what you have to say when you post up!

  3. Brilliant review Dan! I may have to check this one out when I get caught up this weekend. This will be my FIRST in theater Bond movie!

  4. “Mendes does more than just craft memorable action sequences though. He’s also created one of the most striking Bond films ever visually, as well. There are numerous shots that are so colorful or so dramatic that they beg to be turned into “Skyfall” desktop wallpapers.”
    I’ll say! It was filmed by the best in the business, Roger Deakins. I’m hoping this is the year the Academy atones for it’s omission of “Bond” and Deakins from its’ Oscar ranks!
    I’m bound for Bond by the end of the week. I’ll need a pick-me-up by then. Nice review, Great grade. A++! Was there ever any doubt?

    • “Was there ever any doubt?”

      Not as I watched it, it grabbed me the first moment and never let go, but I did realize in the week leading up to it that if I gave it anything less than the A++ people here would interpret it as a disappointment. LOL

      I may have painted myself as something of a Bond freak or something this past month. LOL

  5. Very glad to read your review. It’s easily one of the year’s best films. There was even one spot in the film where I said “Oh, Wow!!” out loud. (It had to do with a type of transportation). Can’t wait to see it again in the IMAX format.

    • LOL. I had what I would describe as a “Seizure of glee” the first time I saw that moment. LOL.

      And yes, that means I’ve seen it twice now. :D

      Glad to hear you concur Al. And an IMAX viewing is definitely worthwhile, that’s how I saw it the first time, and I think the trip was worth it….

  6. Pingback: Skyfall Review: Queue Slow Clap | Rorschach Reviews

  7. Woah, what a score! I agree about Fiennes – he was amazing. I wish Bardem had more intense scenes, he only had few and after he escaped it was all just action, the film really slowed down for me in the 3rd act but the ending was fantastic.

    • I think you and I have a serious dicsonnect on that particular character. If his scenes were more intense my temples would have burst open! :D He was awesome!

      The 3rd act did shift gears and it took me a second viewing to fully gain comfort with it. I’m fully confident in its awesomeness now. :D

  8. From one huge Bond fan to another, a great, well-focused review. I can’t wait to see the film. I wholeheartedly agree with your point about the ‘serious’ nature of Craig’s Bond. I appreciate that he’s more realistic this way, but I would welcome some fun moments. Cheers!

    • Thank you first off, I appreciate that Will :)

      I’m not going to call the movie devoid of fun moments… They’re there, they’re just keeping them sparse.

      The “Tone” of the entire film is very very serious, its not just Craig. And the films definitely didnt used to have that, they used to be much more lighthearted. Im not saying we need a return to Moonraker or anything, but a move towards the middle would make these Craig Bonds unstoppable!

      Hope it lives up to your expectations as much as it did mine!

  9. Not that I WASN’T sure about this one..but I’m definitely glad it did not fail to deliver for da Fogs! And since I’m a gritty Bond lover, it sounds like I’ll be lovin this one! Thank you for making me desperate to see this! :D

    • LOL. You’re welcome. :D

      And you definitely get the gritty Bond. No doubt. He’s knocked down, dragged out, washed up…. things get real. LOL You’ll love it. There’s really no way around it. It’s just one of those high quality movies that you can’t see how anyone wouldnt love it. I’ve yet to come across a negative review (and trust me, I’ve been out and about) but if I did, I think my first instinct would be “Whats your problem?” :D

      • Awesome, awesome, awesome! The grittier and “realer” (it’s James Bond, so it’s hard to be too real eh?) it is the better! And I know it’s cruel of me, but I prefer it when Bond gets beaten up to when he does the beating ;)

      • Oh you know, I’m on Bond’s side, but I sometimes feel a little for the villains…I creep people out because I like the Joker too much…oh and about the blond hair – does that really work here? When I saw it in the trailer, it looked ridiculous, but Bardem is being hailed as incredible, so maybe I’m being nitpicky here :)

      • Wait’ll you see! LOL

        Telling you Livi. Once you watch this, you will have no complaints about him. He’s so awesome. Hair or no, Bardem is phenomenal in this movie. Its obvious he’s hamming it up but its SO fun to watch. And his character is completely well written! You’ll love it.

  10. I enjoyed it and can echo most of your sentiment–but I did not love it (like so many are doing). Although I gotta give major props to Roger Deakins, his cinematography is mind-blowing!! Absolutely beautiful. Sam Mendes pleasantly surprised me with his action capabilities and all the performances are strong. Unfortunately, the weaknesses you mentioned are more vivid for me.

    As much as I enjoyed Bardem’s performance, I could never see him as the incarnation of evil he was hyped up to be. (And I have a problem when villains are caught “monologuing” :D Just do it already! ) Little things like why hack in to (an undisclosed location) and then do nothing but escape?? I felt some of his actions were brain scratching and contradictory. But, he was a blast to watch for sure.

    And I agree (more strongly) with you about Bond’s fun factor. I’ve missed that aspect of the last three films–it is part of who Bond is and I am hopeful that the ending indicates a shift in the future…maybe…otherwise it’s just a wonderful, exciting spy film. But not Bond. **sigh**

    Overall, I recommend it (posted my review) and think it will be a fine addition to the Bond series–but I am waiting for a bit more of the fun to return.

    Later! :D

    • I think the reason he wanted to get captured and then escape was to make Judi Dench look upon him… I’m sure he’d been harboring that for awhile. I really didnt have any issues with him, I thought he was great!

      But yeah, the fun factor is an issue. I think Casino Royale had its fair share… between his time in Jamaica where he wins the car and gets the girl, to his love affair after with Vepser, where he was very happy, and of course the poker game in between… Craig’s Bond wasn’t miserable then. He was a harder edged Bond, but he didnt really get cold hearted til Quantum. I was hoping that that would be one and done, but I guess not. So you and I will have to carry that hope forward at least one more movie, Nedi. :(

      Later!

  11. First, gotta say enjoyed the two-parter podcast. Fun stuff. Great production factor with the clips and the theme songs. Thanks for putting in the effort!

    OK, so just got back from the movie…first impression is a Top 5 Bond film. I liked the step toward the traditional Bond. I do agree with you though that they haven’t quite made it there with making me want to be Craig’s Bond. (Although I think he probably hit the skazins with more women in this one than the other two combined. At least it seemed like it anyway.)

    As I said a minute ago on UnderScoopFire’s post, I’m “hanging my hat” that the next Bond will be even better. Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with you that the villain was superb. Loved the colorful scenes (the fight in the skyscraper with the marquee in the background was awesome.) My first impression is just that this is more of a transition film from the tough gritty Bond to the more refined Bond. My first impression Q was not good, but its grown better the more I think about it.

    My major qualm with this one is the Home Alone final fight. Didn’t like it. I understand it in relation to the plot and that they probably didn’t want to blow the joint up so the villain could pull M out alive but for some reason it just didn’t work for me the way it did like in L.A. Confidential. And what was up with the old caretaker still living there?

    Anyway, I liked it way better than QoS…close but probably didn’t top Casino Royale for me. Definitely a step in the right direction and very anxious for the next one now with Fiennes, Q, and the new Moneypenny. Gadgets baby, give me some gadgets for crying out loud!!!

    • Thank you for listening Jay, that makes it all worthwhile, you know? We had fun doing it!

      LOL at you calling it the “Home Alone” fight. That’s a good one, and I may just use it. Though I may just prefer “Bond meets Straw Dogs” LOL :D I dont know what Finney was doing there, and if Bond was an orphan when the hell was the last time he saw him? etc. In all actuality Jay, that whole segment bothered me too the first time I saw it. (Except for the gorgeous cinemtography of it all and the fact that Bond got that “Ok, now I’m REALLY mad” look when they blew up the Martin. LOL) But on a second visit, I got comfortable with it. My main objection, initially was… its not very “Bond”. You know? Where’s the villain’s lair? But on a second viewing, it’s Bond backstory – which we’ve never gotten, plus it was really well done. And I love Bardem… rolling in on the chopper, tossing grenades around, that line about how exhausted he is… :D

      As to gadgets, to quote Q, unfortunately “We dont go in for that sort of thing nowadays” :( I’m with you. I want ‘em back. Mission Impossible IV had ‘em, WTF, James? LOL

      Still, great flick, definitely top five, I’m thinking 3 after Casino Royale and Goldfinger… right now… I need to mull it more. But yes, BIG step in the right direction, bro!! :D

      • Sounds like we are on the same page. You know, the whole “they blew up the car, now I’m pissed” scenario was really laughable. I didn’t like it. I mean, they shot the car pretty much to bits already, but that motivation is definitely Bond-esque.

        I might have to sneak out of work this week and catch a matinee. I do want to see it again. There is so much I love like most people are mentioning here. The filming and the whole contrast of bright color and lack of color was awesome. When Bardem shows up and lands the chopper at dusk was great. We did kinda get his lair at the island. His entrance was one for the ages, definitely. I also LOVED that we got a little of Bond back story with the house, but taking her to a “safe place” that he hadn’t visited in years and helped by the old-as-dirt caretaker just didn’t sit right. Need to see it again and also figure out if the did resolve the list.

        I’m telling you…I’ve got a good feeling about the next film. If they use the same director and build off the ending with the new characters, think it will exceed this one.

      • Craig is on record that he wants Mendes back, and I do too.

        This franchise hasn’t called on the same director to do back to back films in awhile though, we’ll see if they can pull that together. I would be ecstatic if they did. Mendes was awesome.

  12. This is the movie we all wanted it to be. It has the Craig tough guy attitude, the modern action sequences and a little bit more of the sly humor and fun tone of the earlier Bonds. It sets up the future for immediate new episodes really effectively while closing out some of the elements of the story that might have tied it down a little.
    I had not even thought about Eve as a character outside of the sequences she appeared in. I was pleasantly surprised at the reveal and the potential here is high without the risk of Halle Berry flashback. This is a character that can be richer in the future than it ever was in the past, and still not steal focus from our main character. I hope there is more than just office chit chat in new films.
    Ralph Finnes is a perfect choice to add to the cast in the role that this series always needs but has not always attended to. The relationship with 007 is set to be flinty but also understanding. The brief flash of action he gets in Skyfall makes me wonder what kind of Bond he might have been if Brosnan had not taken on the role. If they manage to keep him and use him well, this will raise the quality of the films in some of the sections that are often just exposition.
    Fogs, you didn’t say what you thought of the Adele song and the title sequence. At the end of the film, the titles made more sense than at the beginning, and as I re-listen to the song, the interpretation seems to vary a bit more as well. IMHO, everyone except Shirley Bassey takes one step back on all those lists of great Bond songs.
    Judi Dench gets a meatier role here and the tough nature of her job is shown to have it’s consequences, even if she has to maintain the composure necessary to hide the toll it takes. (Five agents for one, that was the calculation she made in giving up Silva/a number crunching calculation. Bond back in the field despite failing the qualification tests is a measure of her growth in the role of head of MI6).
    The DB5 just about gave me an orgasm. I laughed, smiled, grinned and then teared up (in that order) in it’s key scenes. I knew what was coming in the scene in front of the house at the end and it was just the kind of humor and Bond touch that the Craig films need.
    I’ve seen it twice and will probably go again Sunday and maybe Monday as well. There is a lot going on in the movie, and I want to know it as well as all of it’s older brothers as fast as I can. I’m glad you liked it as well as I did. A great write up, you did well keeping most of Skyfall’s pleasure for the viewer while still giving us enough background to understand your evaluation.

    • I guess the reveal about “Eve” might have surprised people if they hadnt followed the casting, etc… Of course, I did :( But I think I’d have caught on to it when they dropped the line about her assisting Mallory, who I was on to as well from day one (and that I didn’t know). Fiennes is going to be fine (LOL). You make a good point, of late, the role has received more attention than at other times in the series. Though I’ve never had complaints per se.

      The song is growing on me, I think the title sequence was relatively weak. Casino Royale’s title sequence wowed me and really got me pumped up for the movie, this one was just ok. I was kind of anxiously waiting for it to end to get back to the movie, seeing as the pre-title sequence was so awesome and kind of left the film at an important point. LOL

      I’m going to echo your feeling on the appearance of the DB5. LOL. :D I’ve been referring to it as a seizure of glee. When it first came on, I pretty much clenched up my whole body, got this huge grin and audibly went “GEGEGGGEEE” LOL. I didn’t react with as open arms for the return of M’s office for some reason. At that point I felt like it was just outright fan service. We’ll see if they keep it. I definitely grew comfortable with it on second viewing though. I may go see it again soon too! I loved it, and I’ll echo your sentiment about wanting to have it fully memorized, etc… but hell, right now, I’m just still in that “I wanna watch Skyfall” zone.

      Finally, thanks for the props on the review. I try, you know? ;) Thank YOU for swinging by!

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