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Movie Review: Skyfall

November 9, 2012

Skyfall – A Sony Pictures’ Release

http://www.skyfall-movie.com/site/

Release Date: November 16th, 2012

Rated PG for violence and language

Running time: 143 minutes

Sam Mendes (dir.)

Neal Purvis (writer)

Robert Wade (writer)

John Logan (writer)

Thomas Newman (music)

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Judi Dench as M

Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva

Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory

Naomie Harris as Eve

Bérénice Marlohe as Sévérine

Albert Finney as Kincade

Ben Whishaw as Q

©Sony Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) in Skyfall.

Our reviews below:

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Skyfall Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall is a beautifully crafted piece of work that pays tribute to the classic James Bond films, while taking the fifty year old franchise in exciting new directions.  Right from the opening scenes of the film, which include a visually stunning action sequence that takes us atop a moving train, we just know that we are in for a thrilling ride.

This time, the threat is more personal for James Bond (Daniel Craig), as the MI6 is threatened by a computer hacker bent on revenge, who is slowly compromising the identities of the agents.  When their London headquarters fall victim to attack, Bond’s relationship with his beloved boss M (Judi Dench) is also put to the test, as the threat starts to bring out her deeply personal past.  The villain this time around is Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a deranged mastermind with a sadistic sense of justice and a mysterious past.  His very real threat is even more terrifying as it becomes a disturbing allegory to the power of the internet, and James Bond needs help from the young technological genius Q (Ben Whishaw) in order to take him down.

After the excellent Casino Royale in 2006 and the disappointing Quantum of Solace in 2008, Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third outing as James Bond and he gives his strongest performance yet as the British super spy.  This 23rd film also ranks as one of the best in the loosely connected franchise that has been going strong since the release of Dr. No back in 1962 and shows no signs of slowing down.  When asked about his hobby, “resurrection” is James Bond’s only response, and it’s an answer so perfectly in tune with the film itself.  Themes of aging are present, but Skyfall feels alive, offering something much more visually and intellectually satisfying than your typical popcorn film.

The last forty minutes of Skyfall provide some of the most beautifully filmed action sequences that I have ever seen, bringing even deeper meaning to the mysterious title.  The finale offers an impeccably well crafted series of gunshots and explosions that are filmed in the style of a classic thriller.  The action is smoothly followed by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, making great use of camera angles and lighting to build a perfect sense of foreboding and suspense.  Bookended by visually stunning set pieces and filled with several exhilarating sequences throughout the film, Skyfall is a smart blockbuster that is so much more than just another action movie.

“This is the end,” the brilliant Adele sings over the stunning opening credits sequence that perfectly matches the breathtaking vocals and resonant lyrics of the title track, “hold your breath and count to ten.”  But this 23rd James Bond film feels like just the beginning of exciting things to come.  From the exhilarating opening sequence, to the finale and final few scenes that leave us excited for the next instalment, Skyfall is one of the best blockbusters of the year.

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Skyfall Review by Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

After 50 years of James Bond, the 23rd film is here.  Skyfall is the third to star Daniel Craig as Bond, and this just may be his best outing in the franchise yet.  I think we all remember when Casino Royale came out in 2006, Craig’s first Bond film, and an amazing reboot into the franchise.  But the one inbetween that film and this, Quantum of Solace, was a major disappointment.  So, it was with reservation I’m sure that many will approach Skyfall.  But, it is unwarranted – this is not just an amazing Bond film with neat little throwbacks to the earlier films, but a film with a surprising sophistication as well.

The plot of Skyfall is one with a major focus on cyber-espionage and terrorism, with agent names released after the MI6 computer is hacked, and threatening messages keep appearing, seemingly directly targeting M.  Daniel Craig, as we know, plays Bond well, and here is no exception.  M (Judi Dench) plays bigger into this one as well, although it is Javier Bardem who frequently owns the screen as the twisted and insane villain Mr. Silva.  We meet a new Q as well, who this time around is played by the young Ben Whishaw who most people will now recognize from his roles in Cloud Atlas.

Right from the opening scene, we know the kind of suspense we are in for.  We open on a chase sequence through crowded streets, across rooftops, train tops, through tunnels and on a bridge.  If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll know that a shot goes amiss during this scene, something that will lead to struggles for Bond throughout the film.

After this amazing opening we finally get the opening credits – a classic ‘trip’ of Bond, dancing women, and a montage inkling to the set pieces to come.  And of course, over this sequence we get the new Bond song – ‘Skyfall,’ by Adele.  The song is in one word amazing.  I’ve heard it countless times since it was released last month, and it was just perfect in the film – and once you know the meaning of the title ‘Skyfall,’ listening to the words brings on another interpretive layer of brilliance.  Here’s hoping it is eligible for Best Song at the Oscars and won’t be disqualified for using a bit of the main James Bond riff from Dr. No, because this song deserves not just the nomination, but the win.

The score by Thomas Newman works well within the context of the film, appropriately incorporating the tune from the title song at exactly the moments you’d want.  Along with the acting, score, and script, the cinematography (by Roger Deakins) is worth a note here as well – I didn’t realize he’d done the film until afterwards, but his signature style is clear giving us amazing shots and angles throughout, especially during a couple of key moments.

Overall, with many action set pieces from The Tube in London, to Shanghai, to a remote Scottish landscape, Skyfall is exactly what you’d want and expect from a Bond film – plenty of fights, suspense, and globetrotting as Bond prepares to give everything he’s got to take down the newest threat.  But overall, it reaches something more: this is a classy film, with an extra level not often seen in your typical run of the mill action flick.  And that’s what audiences will connect to and go for.  Definitely for those 12+ this film will be immensely enjoyed and is well worth seeing on the big screen.

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Skyfall Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

James Bond has been one of cinema’s favourite action heroes for fifty years, and Skyfall pays homage to the Bond classics, while taking some modern twists.  Bond’s boss M (Judi Dench) has aged, yet this hasn’t slowed her down.  But James Bond must take on a new kind of threat, one of a technological nature.  He gets assistance from Q (Ben Whishaw), a 20-something computer hacker who can help track Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former spy turned cyberterrorist.

James Bond proves himself to be a timeless hero with Skyfall, which has all the classic staples, including great action sequences, menacing villains and Bond girls.  The action starts, even before the credits, in an exciting chase sequence.  The credits are classic James Bond, with a phenomenal new song by Adele, and the whole film feels like a classic.  One fight sequence is shot in shadows, with blue city lights creating silhouettes.  Another fight ends with one of Silva’s minions getting eaten by Komodo dragons, which is very classic Bond.  Silva is perhaps one of the best Bond villains, played chillingly by Javier Bardem.  Judi Dench is great as the feisty M, and Daniel Craig is perfect as the now aging James Bond.  Skyfall also provides a backstory to his origins.

With excellent acting, a clever plot, amazing action scenes, a great Adele song and an exciting score by Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo, WALL•E), Skyfall is fun for James Bond fans from youth to adult.  This is sure to become a classic.

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Skyfall Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Some things get better with age, and James Bond is one of them.  Fifty years after the franchise began, the latest entry Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes, feels like a brand new start for the iconic series.  With Daniel Craig playing 007 for the third time, this is one of the best Bond movies to date.  When a film gives us amazing rooftop motorcycle chase sequences, exciting foot chases on top of moving trains and a shocking death scene of a lead character all before the opening credits roll, then you know you are in for an exciting time.  Skyfall promises and delivers from beginning to end.  Never mind age, James Bond is back.

The storyline centres around secret service agency MI6 leader, M (Judi Dench).  Senior administrator Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) feels M is quickly approaching her “best before” date and really needs to consider retiring.  When her computer is hacked, the identity of several agents is compromised and a major security threat occurs.  M’s ability to handle the terrorist-like attack is questioned.  When 007 learns of the attack, he returns to assist her.  Their history together goes way back and the meaning of Skyfall and James Bond’s origins are revealed.  Bond isn’t the only one who has a history with M.  It turns out the villain, platinum-haired and wild eyed Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) has his own issues with the steely-eyed matron of MI6.

This film has so much going for it.  Daniel Craig is in top form as James Bond, and Judi Dench is really strong as M.  However, it’s Javier Bardem who steals scenes as the crazed villain.  Along with the solid performances, Skyfall also provides spectacular action sequences.  The suspense and the lighting all work together brilliantly.  The use of glass walls, reflections and shadows make this a visually stunning film.  There is one scene where 007 is in hand to hand combat with an opponent and it looks like shadow puppets fighting.

Exciting action alone isn’t enough to make a film good.  The really good ones like Skyfall also have a compelling story to justify the action.  This is an intelligent and at times touching story.  Also nice are the nods to earlier Bond films, including his beloved Aston Martin.  The action and visuals are all tied together nicely with Thomas Newman’s perfect musical score.  The title song that plays over the opening credits, sung by Adele, deserves more than a mention.  This song is beautiful.

This is a brilliant movie and a fitting 50th anniversary tribute to the entire James Bond franchise.  Bond fans, old and new, are going to want to see Skyfall.

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Skyfall Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

Skyfall is the latest James Bond film, the third with Daniel Craig in the title role. It opens with Bond chasing a man who has just stolen a list of undercover agents, going from the rooftops of Istanbul on motorcycles to the top of a train from which Bond is accidentally shot down by his assistant Eve (Naomie Harris), landing in a river and presumed dead. His underwater image then swirls through the typically psychedelic opening credits under the theme sung by Adele.

As agents on the list start to die, M (Judi Dench) is asked to retire by her new superior Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) but is determined first to “finish the job.” Bond reappears and is sent after the man he had chased in Istanbul, named Patrice (Ola Rapace), on his next hit job in Shanghai. Patrice is killed but Bond finds a Macao casino chip leading him to a woman, Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) who then takes him to the real Bond villain, Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva is a cyber terrorist bent on revenge for betrayal by his former boss M. Imprisoned in London, Silva escapes into the Underground, having hacked all the MI6 firewalls set up by the new Q (Ben Whishaw), and during a parliamentary hearing he makes an attempt on M’s life. Bond whisks her away to a remote location for the final showdown.

Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall is brilliant, at or near the top of the 23 Bond films to date. Unlike the previous Quantum of Solace it never drags, seeming much shorter than its 143 minutes. Except for a few nostalgic items gadgets are kept to a minimum, though hardly missed during the action scenes beautifully shot by veteran Coen brothers cinematographer Roger Deakins. Like the Dark Knight sequels, it has the added dimension of a psychological thriller, as Silva forces Bond and M to question their roles as age catches up with them. The excellent cast also includes Albert Finney in the later scenes. Finally, the musical score by Thomas Newman is a fine mix of classic Bond and original themes.

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Consensus: Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall is an exciting and beautifully crafted addition to the fifty year old James Bond franchise, that is carried by excellent work from Daniel Craig and visually stunning action sequences.  **** (Out of 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Von Zuben permalink
    November 10, 2012 1:28 am

    Just got back from seeing this fantastic movie. Love the Adele song, easily one of my favourite songs from the Bond Films. Just love Daniel Craig as James and Javier Bardem as the villain. Kudos to the whole team in this great addition to the Bond archive. Cheers to another 50 years of Bond.

    Like

    • November 10, 2012 11:34 am

      We’re so glad that you enjoyed Skyfall and totally agree with you that everything about the film is just fantastic. Here’s to another 50 years!

      As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

      -John C.

      Like

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