Friday, November 9, 2012

007...Reporting for Duty...!

Skyfall  (MGM/Columbia, 2012)

Before the Camera:

Daniel Craig  (Layer Cake)
Javier Bardem  (No Country for Old Men)
Naomie Harris  (28 Days Later...)
Ralph Fiennes  (Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit)
Berenice Marlohe  (Untitled Terrence Malick Project)
Albert Finney  (Murder on the Orient Express)
Ben Whishaw  (Layer Cake)
Rory Kinnear  (Lennon Naked)
Ola Rapace  (All About My Bush)
Judi Dench  (A Study in Terror)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Sam Mendes

Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli

Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan

James Bond created by Ian Fleming

For the 23rd official time, James Bond comes to the big screen with his latest adventure. Bond (Craig) and fellow agent Eve (Harris)  are in the field as the movie opens, hot on the trail of a hard drive containing encrypted agents' undercover identities. Despite their best efforts, the hard drive is spirited away. 007 goes into a self imposed exile over the failure. After a cool credits sequence with the terrific song from Adele, the film picks up some months later, as M realizes that the person who stole the list of agents is someone from her past, and now they are using the information to attack her and MI6. Bond returns to duty, but his time away has dulled his edge. The villainous Silva (Bardem) stays one step ahead of them as he implements his terror plot piece by piece. Has James Bond finally met his match?

007 is always ready to start a new cycle of action...

Four years after the disappointing Quantum of Solace, the Bond team gets back on track with this fantastic new entry in the long running series. Craig is finally allowed to play a complete 007 - not a newly minted 00 agent, or an agent of vengeance from events in the previous movie. Now he is James Bond. He brings all the same acting chops and physical skills to the table, but this time he gets to have a bit of fun and even tosses off some one liners. The cast is marvelous down the line - director Mendes is obviously a draw, so you get a cast like that one up there.

Silva gets up close and personal with 007.

Bardem is a particularly twisted Bond villain, and seems to really enjoy the role - bringing some gusto and panache to his baddie. He may be joining the ranks of the great Bond villains - a couple more viewings will allow me to cement my opinion on that. The ladies - Harris and Marlohe - are good, but really - the Bond girl this time is Judi Dench - with M front and center for a big chunk of this movie's running time. Apparently Judi Dench's late husband Michael Williams used to joke with her about being a Bond girl - and now she really is one! It's also incredibly cool to have such fine British actors as Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney in the movie - it lends some dramatic gravitas to have big time respected actors like these two gentlemen gracing an "action movie." And how awesome that not only does Q finally return - but he's brought to life in a cool and up to the moment way by the great Ben Whishaw.
If Q married a girl named Barbie - she'd then be Barbie Q.

 The storyline is fine - although at this point in the series you can't get away from echoes of previous movies - and without going in to spoiler-y territory I will say that there are moments that hearken back to Never Say Never Again and Die Another Day. I don't mind this, although I find it interesting that the same writers wrote Die Another Day...
    Director Sam Mendes got the job through his previous association with Daniel Craig on Road to Perdition, and what an inspired choice he has turned out to be! He handles the dramatics with his usual confidence, and after the groteque "shaky-cam" action sequences in Quantum turned out to be one of the fatal choices for that movie - the effects and stunts here are visceral, and shown clearly, and in full - with nearly seamless CGI working hand in pixel with practical effects and stunt work. Mendes also brought a lot of his regular crew with him - Roger Deakins as cinematographer and Thomas Newman as composer. Deakins gives the film a great look - very crisp and gorgeous, with muted overcast skies lending the look of the film a somber gray tone. Newman's score is lush and well mounted - and thankfully he brings back some wonderful segments featuring the James Bond theme - missed so much in the last two movies as a misguided attempt to break away from the old a little too much.

My only downsides - the middle section of villain Silva's plan requires a fair amount of contrivance to come off - people he's not in control of need to be in fairly exact spots for it all to work - but that's a quibble, and in the big picture doesn't mar the movie. I'm also a little weirded out that Bond now goes out in the field to the far corners of the earth wearing an earpiece - with M, Q, and Chief of Staff Tanner now yelling in his ear - piggybacking his actions and second guessing his decisions. I know the technology is there - but I come from the time when Bond got his mission briefing then went out on it solo.

M stands for...this picture. See the empty chair?

Everything else about the film - the production design, the effects, the costumes, the stunt work - are all top notch - whether performed by long standing members of the Bond crew family or by new names in the credits - it still feels like a "Bond movie," and I mean that in the very best sense of the phrase.

Skyfall shows Bond in fine form in his 50th cinematic year - and as such gets my highest recommendation - and if you can - go see it on the Big Screen - this is the kind of picture that going out to the movies was invented for - so get out there and check it out!

I think this review needs to be necessarily vague while the film is in theaters, so this review is kind of a first pass/initial thoughts thing. I will beef it up in a few weeks with more direct story points and more descriptive review and analysis.

Let's Get Out of Here ?

I think I heard it in the government hearing scene - but more research is required.

Eye Candy ?

Yup. I mean, it's a James Bond movie...what did you expect?

Naomie Harris

Berenice Marlohe
Welcome to the list, ladies!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Skyfall has it all.
Well, except that exploding pen."

Thank you 00BuddhaMan! Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Sounds like a great time.I can't wait to see this as I have been disappointed recently by Bond and I do love the character and most of the films.

    1. Yay for Judi as M. She was one of the best stars to ever add to Bond and the best Bond Girl ever. :)

    2. It was pretty tasty - and a second viewing less than 24 hours later worked just as well. Dame Dench is a hell of an actress - and seems to be a hell of a lady too - being dungeonmaster for her grandkids and feeling bad when they misstep in one of the 007 videogames and Gramma's voice tells them they've failed.

  2. Great in-depth review, Craig! And how hot is Berenice Marlohe!

    1. Thank you Mark! I really appreciate that! And - smokin' would be my answer!

  3. Awesome! Makes me very excited to see this. It's on my list of films to see!

    1. I hope you do - and that I figure out who you are so I can ask what you thought!

  4. Good review. I share your uneasiness about the earpiece interaction, mainly in the pre-title sequence, although it has a purpose in there ultimately. I just wouldn't like to see people talking in Bond's ear through action sequences to become a norm. As for similarities to previous films, it's got a surprising number of things in common with The Man with the Golden Gun - investigation, location, and character elements.

    - Cody

    1. Thanks! And you're right - MWTGG is definitely another echo...during my second viewing today I realize there's another - but it's escaping me right now - still, if it comes back I'll update the review from two titles to three...

  5. I don't want to build it up too much in case you do watch it - but it's pretty damn good.

  6. Loved it! The cinematography was soooo lovely. And the contrast in light/texture/mood between key locations was inspired. But then, there were many, many inspired touches to this film.

    I found a couple plot points I felt were head-thunkers--but all in, the story held up well. And the casting was spot-on.

    Awesome addition to the series!

    1. I'm pleased you enjoyed it - I thought it was marvelous! Awesome addition indeed!

  7. Great review! I keep buying exploding pens, but people at work keep stealing them.
    On an unrelated note, there's a LOT of turnover at my company.

    1. Oh, I like fruit filled pastry - maybe I will drop by your company for some turnover!

      Thanks for coming by! I think you're the only M5 subscriber to visit.

  8. Great review! You brought up a couple excellent points that I hadn't even thought of until you mentioned them. First off, this is so true: "Craig is finally allowed to play a complete 007." Before, we got to see an origin story. Which is fun. And, in a sense, this is much of the same. But this is definitely a BOND film...James has lost his spots.

    Also, interesting note about the earpiece. I wasn't even thinking about it until you brought it up! I guess that's why they had him drop it off with Eve, eh? I think it was just a way to keep M. center stage, but it would be nice to see him flying solo more often.

    1. M - wonderful to see you - thanks for checking my Skyfall natterings out! I appreciate the kind words - you rock through and through! For a really great Skyfall review I'm going to link you back to this author's blog - and some salty tongued love for our favorite spy:


  9. Great review - it gets me itching to see it and hopefully will get to this weekend. I love Judi Dench and glad she gets to be front and center. Thanks for the blog!