Cast & Credits
Daniel Craig James Bond
Judi Dench M
Javier Bardem Raoul Silva
Ralph Fiennes Gareth Mallory
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Original running time: 2 hour and 23 minutes
Warning! This review of Skyfall will be similar to my previous reviews of Bond films. That is to say that I will go over many aspects of the plot. While the ending will be left ambiguous, many of the more savvy readers will be able to connect the dots and draw a clearer image of how this movie ends. Also, after the OP, I'm sure that some may want to go over certain plot points in exhaustive detail. So be forwarned that if you have not seen this movie, but want to know what I think of it, you should skim down to where the score is and vacate the premises immediately. Now that I have that out of the way, it's time for the review.
The film opens without the iconic gun barrel sequence again. My rant against the producers in my Quantum of Solace review obviously did no good so I will act like I am perfectly cool with it now... The movie opens in Istanbul. Bond appears on the scene and finds an MI6 agent named Ronson bleeding to death from a gunshot wound to the belly. The hard drive to his laptop is missing. M tells Bond to leave Ronson in order to retrieve the contents of the hard drive. I'm glad she's not my boss. Bond takes off after the hitman named Patrice in an automobile with another Mi6 operative named Eve (Naomie Harris). He leaves the car for a motorbike and soon 007 is giving chase after Patrice across the rooftops of Istanbul. This is an exhilarating display of stuntwork that is capped off with fantastic cinematography. One thing leads to another and and the two wind up fist fighting atop a speeding train. Meanwhile, Eve has both men in the sights of her sniper rifle, but cannot get a clen shot at Patrice. M barks orders for her to take the shot. She does. Bond is shot in the chest and falls into the river below. Patrice gets away. With that I am done with this review. Thank you and good night. Okay maybe not...
The title sequence comes up and we see many interesting symbols. There's a graveyard, an old mansion, and red blood flowing. If a raven popped out I would have thought that this was a movie about an Edgar Allan Poe story. We also get close ups of Daniel Craig's face, his bullet hole, and a brief part with silhouettes of extremely fit female bodies. In the background, the theme by Adele is playing. I'll be honest. I'm not a big fan of hers, but this song isn't bad. It's attempting to sound like a classic Shirley Bassey theme, but Adele isn't quite the singer that Dame Shirley Bassey is. How about having Shirley sing the next theme guys? She is still alive and can belt out the notes. Oh well... The song is still better than any of the recent ones. It's my favorite since GoldenEye. The soundtrack was done by Thomas Newman. It's pretty average and when I say average I mean average for anything not done by John Barry. Sadly, something has been missing since he departed the series.
As the film resumes, M is writing Bond's obituary. She is then ordered to meet the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). It is revealed in their conversation that the hard drive contains the names of every NATO agent that is currently undercover investigating terrorist activities. Mallory suggests that M retire due to her incompetence or she will be forced to do so. Being the stubborn bulldog that she is, she refuses. M's assistant, Bill Tanner, informs her that someone has hacked into her computer. As they pull up to MI6, a huge explosion destroys her office and kills several employees. The hacker tells her to think on her sins.
Next, we are whisked away to a tropical paradise where (surprise,surprise) Bond is still alive. He passes the time by pounding shots, messing with scorpions, and making love to a beautiful woman. After seeing what happened to MI6 on CNN, Bond breaks into M's house like he did in Casino Royale. I'm starting to think that M doesn't take the best security measures. She tells him that his place has been sold because he was thought to have been deceased. James asks to rejoin the service and undergoes psychological and marksmanship tests. Neither appear to go very well (his shooting is way off because of the pain he still experiences from the bullet that's in his chest). Pieces of that bullet are sent in for analysis. M says that he barely passed and has him meet the new Quartermaster "Q" (Ben Whishaw). He equips Bond with a radio and a Walther PPK which can read Bond's palm print and can only be fired by him. By the way, James also bumps into Eve who has been suspended from field duty and now is an assistant to Mallory.
The bullet is traced to Shanghai and Bond is sent there to track down Patrice. When James finds the killer, he folows him up a skyscraper using an elevator. After the assassin liquidates his target, Bond gets into a physical struggle with him. This leads to 007's adversary plummeting to his death before it can be found out who he was working for. James notices a gorgeous woman in the opposite building. He finds a casino chip in Patrice's equipment for a casino in Macau. Bond is given a hefty amount of money for the assassination by the cashier who mistakes him for Patrice. Next, our favorite secret agent bumps into the gorgeous woman that he saw earlier in the skyscraper. Her name is Severine. He notices a mark on her wrist that indicates that she's a sex slave and tells her that he can help her if she has him meet her "employer". Severine indicates that several men are about to kill him but that she will meet him on the yacht that she is staying on and make him "feel good" if he gets out alive. He does so with a little help from Eve, his personalized Walther, and some vicious Komodo dragons. He then meets Severine on the yacht...
As the two approach an abandoned island, the yacht's crew takes them captive. Bond is promptly tied to a chair and introduced to the main villain of the piece, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). This scene is pure genius. He begins telling a story to Bond in the distance and slowly gets closer. The story includes him being orphaned at a young age, how he had to live with his aunt, and how rats can be conditioned from eating coconut to eating other rats and that Silva and Bond are the two remaining rats. At the same time we notice that Silva has very strong mannerisms and let's just say that he puts James in a very uncomfortable and creepy position. By the way, I have heard people say that Silva reminds them of the Joker, but I was reminded of the character Gabriel from the old Modesty Blaise comic strip in both his appearance and sexuality. Look it up an you'll see what I mean. Anywho, Silva is a former MI6 agent that M left to die because she thought that he was too dangerous. Raoul also shows Bond that he failed all of his tests but M still sent him on the mission regardless. Basically, Silva is suggesting that M sent Bond out to most probably die. They go outside and Severine has been tied up and beaten. I won't say what disgusting act the villain commits, but it involves wasting good scotch. Bond kills the guards and radios the Royal Navy come in helicopters and bring Silva back to the UK.
M confronts Silva and he asks why she abandoned him in anger. She is called away to go to court to be interrogated by the MP. Q attempts to acces Silva's computers, but it causes an MI6 security failure which helps Raoul escape. It was all a ruse to make M look like a fool again... Q locates Silva dressed as a cop and Bond chases after him. Just as we think that he's about to be recaptured, he gets away with a little help from a train. Next he meets up with a group of his henchman and they go to M's meeting. She narrowly escapes with Bond's help. They switch cars and Q leaves a trail that only Silva can follow.
Bond and M go to the Scottish Highlands to the old Bond family estate called "Skyfall". This is where the final act akes place. We find out that Bond was orphaned at a young age and that his parents were named Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix Bond. I found this to be cool since it has never been mentioned in the movies. This was only brought up in the Ian Fleming novel "You Only Live Twice" and John Pearson's "James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007" before. The scene at Skyfall where the table are turned on the attacker is reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" and not John Hughes' "Home Alone". We also find out that grenades are just as destructive if you use a limp wristed throwing motion. Will James, M, and gamekeeper Kincaid get out of Skyfall alive?
This movie was brilliant. What I love about the Craig era (especially Casino Royale and Skyfall) is that there is a lot of depth to the characters. These are not cardboard cut-outs. The themes in this movie are very dark, but there is a lot of humor in it. There are several sneaky and not so sneaky references to films featuring Connery, Moore, and even Dalton. I found it fascinating that Bond and Silva were in some ways so similar, but in others so different (not just their sexual preferences). Both were orphaned at a young age, worked for MI6, and abandoned by M. One reacts in a certain way to this situation and the other goes in a completely different direction. As I said, there are dark themes. In the end, what little that is left of Bond's past is destroyed leaving him only with his work, M pays for her sins but also atones for them, and the villain in many ways "wins". Speaking of Silva, in his final scene you can see the disgust in his eyes at being stabbed in the back by MI6. It makes him a bit more sympathetic and more than just a villain. It's not all doom and gloom though. The movie ends on an upbeat tone. A startling revelation is made about Mallory and Eve. Also, the absurd assertion that "James Bond" is a code name is forever put to rest. Daniel Craig is the same guy that Sean Connery was and thank God for that.
5 out if 5 - I liked this even better than Casino Royale. It is very dark and serious but isnt afraid of being campy and going for laughs. It has the best of both worlds which only the very best Bond films do.
Cool thing to know: Daniel Craig stalked Sam Mendes in order to get him to direct this film.
Another cool thing to know: Daniel Craig stalked Javier Bardem in order to get him to play Silva.
Yet another cool thing to know: Daniel Craig is a creepy stalker.
And yet another cool thing: Look for the Heineken scene. It's maybe the funniest part of the movie if you spot it.
James Bond will return.