Monday, November 12, 2012


Bond is back, baby! We all know the catchphrases, and by now we're intimately familiar with the iconic musical theme. No one is a total stranger to the illustrious 007; whether or not you've seen any of the Bond movies or spent untold hours playing GoldenEye with your friends during the tail end of the 20th century. James Bond is a cultural mainstay that has gone through numerous revisions and iterations yet still maintains the allure that has characterized the franchise since Dr. No first graced silver screens in 1962.

Skyfall, the latest installment in the Bond franchise, marks the 50th anniversary of Bond's arrival. And in short, it's a marvelous landmark in the series. Unlike the transition from Casino Royale to Quantum of Solace, Skyfall opens without any messy attachments to the title that came before and starts more or less on a blank slate. Expositional dialogue is key throughout the opening half hour or so as we're oriented to the web of events that will serve as the primary plot for the film. Taking a nod from You Only Live Twice, the movie opens on what appears to be the death of James Bond. But circumstances pull him back into the high-speed world of espionage and expensive evening-wear.


There is a lot to sink your teeth into with Skyfall. To begin with, the film is roughly two and a half hours long, so it's definitely one of the lengthier Bond titles in existence. This is very much by design, as the film sets a very slow but methodical pace. Essentially, the whole film is a slow reveal, taking its time to explain itself to the audience while guiding them along its story. We don't even meet the main villain (Javier Bardem) in the flesh until the movie is almost halfway over. It's not boring in the slightest, and the movie opens on another brilliantly thrilling chase scene. But action vignettes aside, Skyfall takes its time unfolding its narrative.

The movie acts as a bit of a set-up film for the Bond films of yore, and by the time all is said and done we've been introduced to several staples of the original films including Gareth Mallory (Ralph Feinnes), Q (Ben Wishaw), and even the infamous Miss Moneypenny.

One of Skyfall's real treats, though, is Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva - the primary antagonist. As I mentioned before, we don't meet Silva until much of the film's principle action is already underway. But his presence is teased throughout as his brilliance in the field of cyberterrorism manifests itself to Bond and those around him in destructive ways. Bardem's performance is so brilliant; he's the kind of sophisticated but undeniably unhinged character that almost elicits a laugh as you watch him make bemused expressions or proposition Bond with a wonton playfulness. He also hides a gruesome physical deformity that we don't get to see until even later in the film. But when he do, it's another brilliant visual cue about the nature of his character: beneath his composure and apparent grace lurks a dangerous menace.

The climactic battle sequence at the end of the film is utterly thrilling. Taking brief refuge at a homestead from his past, Bond makes a last stand against his foes on the Scottish moor; booby-trapping the estate with numerous fatal traps. But when the tell-tale sound of an assault helicopter enters the scene, we realize that this showdown is about to get even more explosive. The whole thing is just great action movie stuff, and a brilliant payoff to the whole film's methodical build.


There's precious little I can think of for this section in regards to Skyfall. I wanted to see more of Silva; he's an incredibly engrossing villain. But his late arrival to the film still fit well into the overall pacing, so I can't call that too big of a complaint.


Skyfall is, without a doubt, one of the best Bond films of recent memory. Daniel Craig has solidified his reputation as a bankable Bond and is one of the better actors to have worn the mantle, in my estimation. I don't know if it would be fair to say he rivals Sean Connery just yet, but another Bond film of this magnitude will move him into that bracket.

This doesn't belong in any objective praise of the film, but Skyfall is hands down my favorite title for a Bond film - perhaps of any film. It's just such a profoundly alluring word that calls to mind a kind of epic tragedy; there's a mysterious poetry to those seven letters. And Skyfall, the film, does a marvelous job of weaving the kind of mystery and allure I began to glean from the title when I saw the first trailer.

All the great Bond staples are here, and in spades. There's a visually striking opening credits sequence accompanied by Adele's theme song for the film, numerous chases, a treasure trove of expensive suits and costume pieces, explosions and gun fights, one or two steamy encounters, and just enough camp to keep the whole thing on target. Skyfall is a marvelous return to form for the Bond franchise and sets itself apart as one of the best Bond films since, perhaps, the beginning of the whole franchise.


  1. This has nothing to do with Bond but I wonder if you'll be reviewing Cloud Atlas at some point? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

  2. I probably won't get around to that until it comes out on BluRay. I still haven't seen it (though I'm eager to), and as much as possible I try to get my reviews out within a week or so of a given release. But thanks for the comment!