Thursday, December 20, 2012

Movie with Abe: Skyfall

Directed by Sam Mendes
Released November 9, 2012

James Bond has now been appearing in movies for fifty years. This marks the third time that Daniel Craig, an unusual candidate to play 007 mainly because of his hair color, has taken on the role. After reinvigorating the franchise with “Casino Royale,” Craig returned with “Quantum of Solace,” one of the less well-received Bond installments. Sam Mendes, best known for his Oscar-winning debut, “American Beauty,” steps behind the camera to direct his first Bond film (only his sixth film overall) and the result is a fast-paced, exciting tale of one man giving his all to serve his country.

“Skyfall” gets off to a ferocious start with Bond and his partner (Naomie Harris) pursuing a suspect who has stolen a classified and very potentially damaging list of MI-6 undercover operatives. When they fail to take back the list, Bond goes off the grid and returns only after a bombing of MI-6 executed expressly to send a message to his handler M (Judi Dench). Bond’s connection to M has been established throughout the past six films, and therefore it makes sense that Bond would stick his neck out to protect the one person who has, for the most part, always had his back. While not necessarily as inventive as other Bond plots, this setup works, and positions Bond to do what he does best: fight bad guys.

While a Bond girl isn’t necessarily identifiable – the closest thing is Harris’ MI-6 agent, whose romance with Bond is only alluded to – “Skyfall” doesn’t skimp on its villain. Javier Bardem, who delivered an Oscar-winning villainous turn as the frightening Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men,” creates an altogether different kind of nemesis in this film, as Raoul Silva, a brilliant hacker whose past association with MI-6 and with M in particular drives him to get revenge on England and its best and brightest. Bardem’s SAG-nominated turn is maniacal but focused, and he’s definitely one of the more intellectual Bond villains to grace the screen.

As can only be expected in a Bond movie, there are car chases and explosions to be had on a regular basis, with some hand-to-hand combat and extensive firearms thrown in as well. Craig is skilled at creating a more dramatic Bond, one clearly pained by loss and exhausted by injuries sustained during the film’s opening scene. With fun supporting turns from Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw, and Albert Finney, not to mention Dench, “Skyfall” is a thinking man’s Bond, but also a familiar underdog story. It may not be the most exciting Bond film made, but this one holds up just fine.


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