Studio: Columbia (2 hrs. 23 min.)
Plot: Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Judi Dench
Rating: PG 13
Bottom Line: **1/2
By Laurence Washington
“Skyfall,” and the previous Daniel Craig Bond outings, totally ignore the most exciting moment in any James Bond film — the traditional gun barrel opening.
So what’s the big deal?
Because during the gun barrel’s 22 seconds, the audience has the anticipation that this could the biggest Bond of all.
In all fairness, the gun barrel sequence does appear at the end of the picture — a day late and a dollar short.
But that’s OK, because “Skyfall” is not a traditional James Bond film. It’s a generic spy thriller. There are no hidden bases inside hollowed out volcanoes, bald villains petting white cats, or mute manservants throwing razor-edge bowler hats.
Even though Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin makes a brief appearance, the cold-war Bond is gone, buried, finished, and the 21st Century Bond has taken his place. In fact, why not retire the Bond character all together and call Daniel Craig 008 — the unseen Double-0 agent who M threaten to replace Bond with on two previous occasions i.e. “Goldfinger (’64)” and “The Living Daylights (’89).” Admittedly, that would be too much like doing right.
Even though Ian Fleming only wrote 12 books, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have to protect the box office. So they keep cranking out new storylines.
Up until “Skyfall,” James Bond has been a veteran character. However, “Skyfall” boldly goes where no Bond has gone before – to explore James Bond’s roots by utilizing the following principle adopted from the Godzilla Universe: “We know there were previous Bond movies (starring Sean Connery and four other actors), but this is what really happened….”
Despite a less than memorable title song, performed by Adele, and an uninspired Thomas Newman music score, “Skyfall” opens with a bang. Several MI6 agents are down, and James Bond (Daniel Craig) pursues the assassin through the crowed streets of Istanbul in true 007 fashion i.e.– knocking over fruit carts, demolishing cars and racing a motorcycle across rooftops.
The assassin murdered the agent’s for their laptop’s hard drive containing names of undercover NATO agents who have infiltrated global terrorist organizations. Never mind why the agents had that vital intel out in the open, it’s just a device to advance an uneven plot that relies heavily on the filmmaker’s reimagining of “Home Alone” at Skyfall (James Bond boyhood manor) as a third act.
The chase inevitably ends up atop a speeding passenger train where Bond is mistakenly shot by his assistant Eve (Naomie Harris) perched behind a sniper’s rifle. Bond falls from the train supposedly to his death. Did I mentioned that the assassin was using Bond as a human shield? Well he was.
During Bond’s absence cyber hackers attack MI6 headquarters, and the British government begins to question whether the spy agency is relevant in today’s high-tech world since a list of their undercover agents are slowly leaked onto the Internet by Silva (Javier Bardem), a believed dead Double-O agent with hydrogen cyanide scars and a grudge against M (Judi Dench).
“Skyfall” is a terrific looking film, and Bardem is wonderfully oily, a villain you love to hate. Especially when he plays his version of William Tell with his girlfriend (Bérénice Marlohe) in one of “Skyfall’s” more tense moments.
Craig seems comfortable in the role, but his face is gaunt despite looking physically fit. If the filmmakers were trying to get rid of the pretty boy Bonds, they’ve succeeded. In fact, Bond is suppose to look rough around the edges after being shot, so maybe it works. However, Craig really doesn’t look good.
“Skyfall” reintroduces a new Moneypenny and Q (Ben Whishaw), a geekish computer nerd who tells Bond he can do more damage on his lap top sitting in his pajamas than he could do in a year in the field.
However, Q’s computer prowess fails to keep Silva from reeking havoc on the MI6 computer system, and blowing up half of MI6 headquarters. “Skyfall’s” final scene will be familiar territory to hardcore fans who have followed the series since “Dr. No. (’62)” Craig is rumored to have signed on for two more Bond films, so the franchise will continue and Craig will maintain its legacy.
THE SPIES WHO LOVED ME
The Bond: Film critics and 007-hardliners agree that “great Scot” Sir Sean Connery is James Bond— even though Connery never enjoyed playing the role which brought him international fame. Connery’s films were events. And his onscreen persona made him larger than life, so much so that “Thunderball” was Christmas 1965. Pierce Brosnan says, “Sean is the man.”
The What’s His Face Bond: Former car salesman and fashion model, Aussy George Lazenby’s only sin was having the unfortunate luck of being the first actor to play James Bond after icon Sean Connery vacated his shoulder holster. Feeling pressure from the press, fans and battling an inflated ego, Lazenby pulled the biggest bone-headed stunt in film history, he quit playing James Bond after one picture — which is arguably the best one of the series.
The Sainted Bond: Hardliners found television’s The Saint, Roger Moore’s Bond too lite compared to Connery’s edgier 007. Unlike Connery, Moore enjoyed playing James Bond despite harsh criticism from the press and fans about his flippantness. Moore’s films were the highest grossing and most entertaining of Bond films thus far. He seldom receives credit for reviving the sagging series at the box office during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
The Thespian Bond: Although he’s undoubtly a better actor out of all the Bonds, including Oscar-winner Sean Connery, hardliners found that Shakespearean trained Timothy Dalton’s brooding Bond was licensed to bore. But ah, that’s the rub. Dalton’s interpretation was exactly the way Bond creator Ian Flemming originally penned his hero. But it was not to be.
The Remington Bond: Like Roger Moore, television’s Remington Steele’s Pierce Brosnan enjoyed playing James Bond, having opted to do at least five films — three more than he had originally contracted. Bronsan seems to be a comfortable fit according to fans, combining the wit of Roger Moore and the ruthlessness of Sean Connery. Brosnan said he felt gutted after he was abruptly fired in 2004 by Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.
This was printed in the December 2, 2012 - December 15, 2012 Edition