Skyfall – Frank’s take (film review).

As the cinema world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the badass British superspy known internationally as Agent 007, craggily-faced Daniel Craig achieves a milestone of his own as the high-octane ‘Skyfall’ marks the third film in which he walks in the adventurous shoes of the dangerous and debonair James Bond. After Craig’s dapper topsy-turvy turns in the cunning ‘Casino Royale’ and the decidedly uneven ‘Quantum Of Solace’, the diminutive dynamo is convincingly explosive in ‘Skyfall’.

Imaginative, thrilling, and intense, ‘Skyfall’ is the latest Bond entry that delivers an impactful punch. Craig’s take on the dashing and iconic martini-sipping rogue out to serve his heroic duties for Queen-and-Country is increasingly infectious. After breathing new life into the five decade-old film franchise, Craig and his handlers certainly usher the legendary lothario James Bond into the manic millennium with action-packed aplomb.

‘Skyfall’ is laced with intelligence, intrigue and carries a riveting storyline that should automatically resonate with Bond enthusiasts. As equally stimulating is the movie’s moody title theme song, as performed by multi-Grammy winning artist Adele, which gives additional soulful ammunition to this rollicking spectacle.

James Bond and Q, sitting in a tree…

Director Sam Mendes (‘Road To Perdition’, ‘Revolutionary Road’) seems like the unlikely filmmaker to competently paint a vibrantly colorful 21st century Bond adventure given some of his past serious-minded dramatic offerings. Effectively, Mendes, as well as his screenwriting team of veteran Bond-age contributors Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, convincingly strikes up a hot match as ‘Skyfall’s depth incorporates a potent mixture of nostalgic Bond-ing references from past instalments, issues of betrayal, the aging process and the polished presence of treachery in an advanced technological society. The Bondian themes are in full swing as ‘Skyfall’ perhaps may be the most profound and prominent segment of the long-lasting super-charged secret agent movie series.

Lately, our suave globe-trotting superspy has not been experiencing his usual impeccable on-the-job performance as the capable man who has the creative license to kill. With a mission gone sour in Turkey, involving the retrieval of a stolen computer hard drive that can identify uncover agents globally, Bond is recklessly shot and initially presumed dead as a result of this accidental occurrence. Feeling understandably inadequate, the resilient Bond takes a brief break before returning to action while realising how much he has ‘lost his touch’ in the process.

Bond is not the only individual feeling rather vulnerable and incomplete. Apparently, Bond’s superior M (Oscar-winner Judi Dench) has lost her step as well. It was her orders that jeopardised Bond leading to his fatal shot during the Turkey mission. Under increasing scrutiny as MI6 is being exposed and her secret agents are in pending peril, we also witness that M’s life is being threatened. Overall, there is an elaborate plan to humiliate M and discredit her outfit. Of course, this is where James Bond needs to jump into the thick of things as he looks to redeem his professional value and protect the interest of his boss M’s integrity, too.

Soon, Bond discovers that a nefarious former agent named Silva (Oscar-winner Javier Bardem) has a score to settle with M and has taken great lengths to destroy her. At Silva’s dastardly side is his sultry and deceptive girlfriend Severine (Berenice Marlohe), who will be instrumental in drawing Bond to the clutches of the villainous Silva. Also, Bond has a dutiful babe at his side as well in the form of curvaceous MI6 agent Eve (Naomie Harris, ’28 Days Later’) whose misguided aim was responsible for wounding Bond as he tussled with the baddie on the moving train in Turkey.

In the meanwhile, an opportunistic Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) — the new chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee — seeks to replace the much maligned M as he hints about how her incompetence may be related to her maturing age. Albert Finney’s role as a gun-toting Bond relative Kincade is inspired as he portrays an old codger ready and willing to get dirty in the mud. Ben Whishaw (‘Cloud Atlas’) assumes the skin of Q with boyish exuberance.

The exceptional challenge in watching ‘Skyfall’ is its flawed treatment of super-agent 007 as a regal renegade who has questioned his acrobatic skills and instincts as a physical specimen in the name of calculating espionage. Craig is rugged yet reminded of his kinetic limitations as a crafty soul gradually losing the grasp of his action-oriented resiliency. Still, the awestruck flashes of excitable action vignettes, tawdry trysts with desirable women wanting a carnal piece of Agent 007, inventive gadgetry and larger than life villains all play into the mythological mayhem of Bond’s compelling 50-year existence.

Craig may not have reached Sean Connery cult status as of yet but he is nearing the finish line as the next best thing to donning the preferable label as the best James Bond to aim a stylish gun, race an errant motorcycle or dodge an animated explosion even in the wake of uncertainty. Dench’s M, much like Craig’s Bond, is refreshingly reflective as an aging wonder that is confined and confronted by her growing years at the helm of dedicated service and experience. Bardem’s riff raffish Silva is deliciously evil and could take the mantle as one of the best unctuous Bond villains to come down the pike. Eye candy starlets such as Harris and Marhole definitely fulfil the resident Bond tenacious tart factor for ardent fanboys.

In conclusion, ‘Skyfall’ is the Bond flick for the ages that resurrects whatever stagnation Agent 007’s previous exploits may have encountered in less-than-stellar stretches. After all folks he’s Bond…James Bond!

Skyfall (MGM)

2 hrs. 25 mins.

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney, Berenice Marlohe

Directed by: Sam Mendes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Genre: Action & Adventure/Spy Thriller

Critic’s Rating: *** ½ stars (out of 4 stars)


Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

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