Saturday, November 10, 2012

Skyfall - Movie Review

After too long of a wait (MGM bankruptcy issues), Bond is back and quite possibly better than ever! With Skyfall, Daniel Craig continues his successful run as 007 along with Judy Dench as MI6 leader "M" in a movie that turns the spy game inside out. Lots of new characters are introduced, both good and bad, and Sam Mendes has now taken over the directing duties for the longest running franchise in movie history.

In an opening sequence that sets the tone for the entire movie, we see Bond on a mission to retrieve a stolen hard drive containing information that, if made public, could mean life or death for numerous undercover MI6 agents around the world. As the stakes go up and the chase intensifies with some really cool action sequences involving trains, motorcycles, and construction equipment, 007 finds his own life in the hands of a fellow agent and, when it all ends, everyone's favorite super spy is considered lost and presumed dead.

Of course, if that were true, Skyfall would be a very short movie so Bond does survive and eventually returns to duty, but only after seeing a hidden terrorist organization following through on their plan to expose and eliminate the undercover agents whose identities were compromised in the failed mission. Sent out by "M" to uncover this new enemy and put a stop to their diabolical plans, Bond finds the usual trail of espionage, killings, and amazingly beautiful women (Bond Girls!) which all leads to the most unlikely of ultimate villains in a showdown that will literally change the spy game forever.

"Bond is Back" is such a fitting tagline for so many reasons. For starters this is the first Bond film in four years partly due to production delays stemming from parent studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer going through bankruptcy and nearly having to sell off all of their properties including 007. Bond himself also goes through a sort of resurrection both within the story and in the overall style and tone of the film with a renewed focus on what makes Bond films so good. The creative team behind the franchise, including director Sam Mendes, has managed to bring Bond back to its roots while also setting him up for a very promising future.

Over the course of the movie, we are introduced to characters like Bond's new quartermaster (Ben Whishaw) , who carries the tradition of gadgetry and technological wizardry along with former agent Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) who holds a position as assistant to the Prime Minister. We also get two new "Bond Girls" in MI6 agent Eve (Naomie Harris) and the smoking hot Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) who is the latest femme fatale to play both sides of the Bond versus villain game.

Finally, in a role that will go down in Bond villain history, Javier Bardem plays Mr. Silva who has designs on bringing down Bond, "M", and MI6 altogether. He plays the character with such a twisted flair that you can't help but almost cheer his villainy in the same way audiences fell in love with Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight. Not sure if that's a fair comparison as I feel Ledger gave one of the greatest acting performances ever seen for that type of character, but Bardem clearly understands what it takes to build a deviously iconic foil to Craig's no nonsense and stylishly strong version of Bond.

Gone is the dark and gritty, shaky-cam style of the last couple Bond films and in its place is a movie that is as beautiful to look at as it is fun to watch. Mendes definitely knows how to frame a shot to take advantage of every possible color, texture, and lighting effect and he does an outstanding job of making this movie look like the epic adventure that this series deserves. Watching the movie, I really had the same sense of stylized realism that made Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy so effective while still retaining its own sense of self with some wonderful nods to the history of the franchise and progressive beats that set Bond up for many more adventures to come.

Skyfall is not just a great Bond movie, its a truly great movie...period.

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