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Monday, November 12, 2012

Skyfall Review

MGM/Columbia Pictures
Skyfall Review
2012, 143 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language, and smoking

The experience of watching Skyfall is something that I did not expect.  After the disappointment of Quantum of Solace and the hiring of Sam Mendes (a director who specializes in drama), I was worried.  However, after viewing the superb action scenes in Road to Perdition, I knew I was in for a treat.  And I was.

Skyfall follows Bond as he tries to protect M and MI6 from terrorist threats and actions.  The root of this terror is terrifying and personal.

I don't even know where to begin with my praise for this film.  But, I have to start somewhere.  The acting by the entire cast is impressive, a rarity for an action film.  Daniel Craig's Bond is developed in this film and Craig's ability to translate Bond's emotions from script to screen is incredible.  There are moments in Skyfall in which Craig expresses everything through his face that are simply incredible.  In addition, he has a quick wit and is a great action hero.  

Judi Dench also adds complexity to her final role as M (she is retiring soon).  Dench has played M with such stern authority throughout the years and nails it in her last outing.  Judi Dench is one of the greatest living actresses today and it is truly sad to see her leave the cinema.

Finally we get to Javier Bardem who plays Raoul Silva, the villain in the film.  Bardem, known for playing a variety of different roles, is blonde in this film and embodies pure evil.  The first scene in which we see Bardem, he gives a monologue that will send chills down your spine.  With Silva, he created one of the best Bond villains ever.

Due to the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, there are multiple hilariously fun references to previous Bond films.  These got a rise out of all of us in the theater.  The screenplay delves into the characters' complexities and is alternately dark and funny, blending drama and action perfectly.  One huge departure that this film makes from the rest of the series is that it is not a film where Bond has a mission and goes on the offense.  In this film, while going on the offense, he is more defensive as he tries to protect M from threats on her life and on MI6.  This approach to the material allows for more character development and works very well.

Roger Deakins' cinematography is stunning; the best part of this masterful film.  Nine-time Oscar-nominee Deakins, best known for his work on the Coen Brothers' films, has shot some of the most beautiful sequences of the year, particularly one in which Bond and an enemy fight in a glass-filled room in a Shanghai building with colored lights illuminating the walls.  This sequence is thrilling.

The opening has to be the most thrilling action scene of the year.  Taking place in Istanbul, the filmmakers try every kind of stunt they can and succeed marvelously.  This scene was a huge adrenaline rush, and so was the last half hour of the film.  The final action sequence is brilliant and so is the ending.

While this is not a complaint, I did like Casino Royale better because it was slightly more mysterious and the action was brutal instead of stylized as it is here.  However, the action here is great.

Overall, Skyfall is a brilliant piece of filmmaking that shows Sam Mendes on top of his game.  Bond films rise and fall on their directors and this one really shows what happens when a great director takes the helm and brings along his talented crew.  The result is a thrilling, complex, and fascinating Bond film that is unlike anything that we have seen before.

-Joshua Handler


  1. What about the Bond girl? I agree that the action sequences were great, but I expected to see more of the Bond girl...

  2. Braulio - I completely agree. The two Bond girls were great actresses and I expected to see them more, but I didn't miss seeing them because Craig, Dench, and Bardem were so captivating that I forgot about the lack of screen time for Bond girls.