For today’s next review of Skyfall (2012), here’s Ryan of Ten Stars or Less‘s take on it.
run time: 143 mins
considered: Action, Adventure
director: Sam Mendes
starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Helen McCrory, Nicholas Woodeson, Bill Buckhurst, Elize du Toit, Ian Bonar
movie summary: British Secret Service MI6 headquarters is in chaos. James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Eve (Naomie Harris) are hot on the trail of a thief who has stolen a list filled with the real names of secret agents deep undercover in various terrorist cells all over the world. Bond chases him down onto a metro train before entering the box cars in the most unconventional way. While fighting arm and arm with the bad guy, the two end up on the roof where Eve gets in position to take a shot to prevent the list from getting out in the open.
When the mission goes bad, Bond finds himself hiding away on a beautiful tropical island with a special lady. He spends his days and nights making love to her and drinking with the townsfolk. One morning he catches a breaking news bulletin about a terrorist attack upon MI6 headquarters in London that left six dead and many others wounded. He shows up unannounced at M’s (Judi Dench) house to re-enlist into the service to catch the bad guy. Bond goes back through the training regiment where it appears he has lost a step and is not psychologically capable of returning to field work. When MI6’s tech team begins to piece together who has the list and where it’s headed, M approves Bond’s test results before introducing him to Q (Ben Whishaw) for new equipment. Q sends Bond on a mission to Shanghai to kill the man he almost took out on the train two months prior. Bond shows up to a high raise just in time to watch the guy kill someone in another building, and after engaging in another fight, dangles the guy out the window until he gets the information he wants. When things don’t end accordingly to plan, Bond steals his casino gold coin and heads to Macau and meets the lovely Severine (Berenice Marlohe).
Eve joins Bond at the casino where everyone knows he doesn’t belong. Bond strikes up a conversation with Severine before the security steps in and tries their best to kill Bond. When the dust settles, three body guards lay dead and Bond dusts off his suit to track Severine to a yacht. As night falls, Bond surprises Severine to spend the night with her before they disembark for a journey to meet her boss. The ship sails across beautiful waters to a tiny deserted island. In an attempt to claim the island, a fake radiation leak was created which caused people to panic and leave as soon as possible. Bond and Severine are handcuffed and brought into two separate warehouses where Bond finally comes face to face with the man behind the whole plan.
Silva (Javier Bardem) was a former MI6 agent that decided to break through the ranks and go rogue. He has been a one man wrecking crew causing minor terrorist incidents all around the world. His speciality is dealing with computer terrorism and plans to take down MI6 and M for years of mistreatment and betrayal. Silva plans to expose all the weaknesses in their system while killing every agent in the field. Bond uses a radio transmitter to pinpoint their location and gets Silva arrested. Back at the new MI6 headquarters, deep in the London underground, Silva is held in a glass prison cell while Bond and Q try to figure out his next move. While Q explores his hard drive, he accidentally starts a virus that crashes MI6 security systems and allows Silva to stroll out of his cell and into London transit rail rush hour traffic.
Bond follows Silva as best as he can before a train crash causes them to get separated. Bond realizes Silva is headed to the special meeting of the British intelligence committee where M is being questioned about the security breaches. When Silva crashes the party he opens fire on everyone in the room, catching Security Minister Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) who was protecting M. Bond shows up to save the day and kidnap M to use her as bait to lure Silva out. Together they swap the company car for a classic car and head to Scotland where Bond grew up. When they reach their destination, Skyfall, Bond finds that Kincade (Albert Finney) is still the groundskeeper of the house he grew up in. The house is empty due to the auction of his processions after his “death”. Bond, Kincade, and M need to put their heads together because three guns and a handful of knives will only get them so far when Silva and his team of hitmen show up armed with guns and a helicopter with the intention to kill everyone.
my thoughts: I watched Skyfall last night for the first time in 2014 and was left to wonder why I don’t watch this amazing movie more. When Skyfall hit theatres in 2012, I bought my tickets the day they went on sale and was one of a handful to attend the midnight premiere. As I left the theatre I was completely blown away by this compelling story and edge of your seat action scenes. Critics across the board agree that Skyfall is one of the best Bond films to date because it presents Bond at his most vulnerable and at his best. I understand that sentence doesn’t make much sense but for the majority of this movie James Bond couldn’t pass a simple MI6 physical agility test, yet has been in the field for so long that he can adapt on the fly to save his butt.
The movie begins with another wild chase that shockingly yields a different result than the previous two films. These events cause Bond to enter into early retirement only to be brought back to life and thrown to the wolves to save MI6. Unlike other Daniel Craig films, Bond doesn’t get his man to open up the story only to find out that his captive works for an even bigger threat. The writers used Craig’s age along with the wear and tear of field work over the years to make Bond look human for once. (He has always been human but does overcome the odds every movie.) In Skyfall Bond’s luck runs out and he’s left scarred and wounded. Despite not having his best efforts to catch bad guys anymore, he still has his charm which works wonders with the ladies and the higher authority in the British secret service. That along with his skill set allow for him to re-enter the field and take down MI6’s most feared threat, Silva. In order to pull this off Bond has to return home, a place he has avoided since childhood, to dig in for the fight of his life while protecting the one person who matters the most to him, M.
Judi Dench is superb in her recurring role as MI6 leader M. She is smart, calculating, and stubborn which will land her in deep trouble with her new bosses and with Bond. At the beginning of the film she makes a career altering decision and then lives with the repercussions throughout the rest of the film. When she comes to realize who is threatening to take down MI6, she’ll dispatch Bond to take him down even though she knows the enemy on a personal level and will go to great lengths to end him.
Javier Bardem is by far one of the meanest, cruelest, and ruthless Bond villains to ever give Agent 007 a run for his money. Salvia’s grand entrance happens about an hour into the film but he spends the remaining 1:20 doing everything he can to destroy everything important to M and Bond. As a former MI6 agent himself, he has the skill set to create a worldwide terrorist network online and be quick with a gun or a bomb. When he breaks into the tightest security network in the world, he plans to expose undercover agents across the globe until Bond shows up. Going head to head with the greatest agent in the history of the British secret agent is something he has dreamt about for a long time and is willing to risk his life to make it happen.
Skyfall features great storytelling and is bookended by amazing action sequences. The film begins with an epic train chase and ends with one of the best explosion scenes I’ve ever witnessed on the big screen. In the middle is the typical gun fights, fist fights, and a cunning game of cat and mouse all leading up to a grand finale that will please action lovers and many Bond fans.
my final thoughts: If you haven’t seen Skyfall yet, you are missing out on one of the best Bond films in its long and luxurious franchise. Daniel Craig takes the James Bond character to new depths that many were not expecting. This third installment with Craig makes up for Quantum of Solace which many critics thought was a bust. Skyfall is a long movie at 2:20 but at the end of this epic joyride, movie goers will be excited to see James Bond reports back for duty after being away for a while.
my star rating: 10 out 10
imdb: 7.8 out 10
rottentomatoes: 92% out 100%
rogerebert: 4 out 4