Friday, November 9, 2012

Skyfall Movie Review

Bérénice Lim Marlohe stars in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall

From our friends at DC Film Review...

Skyfall: Old Dog, New Tricks

It’s hard to believe that James Bond turns 50 this year (cinematically speaking, of course.) 007 celebrates his golden anniversary “in style” in Sam MendesSkyfall, a tribute to “something old and something new” if ever there was one.

The 23rd film in the series, Skyfall debuts in America with a tidy nest egg of $321 million overseas (more than double its budget.) That means MGM and Sony Pictures can afford to take their time reflecting on five decades worth of Bond babes, jet packs and vodka martinis. After all, all those missions are bound to take their toll on a man... even if it’s Daniel Craig as England’s blond (remember the gasps?) super spy.

Mendes takes all of that time... and then some, to get acclimated with his new toys. Skyfall begins with all too familiar chases via motorcycle, rooftops and trains through the streets (and rails) of Turkey; before James gets “killed in action” at the hands of a fellow agent. Fear not, as James lays in wake just long enough to earn a heartfelt obituary from M (Judi Dench in her juiciest turn yet as head of MI6) before coming back ‘ready for duty.’

Things continue to drag on a bit, as 007 battles age and self-doubt: Since when does James Bond struggle with pull-ups and shooting targets? M has her fair share of pitfalls too, including forced retirement which she brushes off in typical M fashion, ‘To hell with dignity. I’ll leave when the job is done.’

But hang in there; there’s plenty of payoffs to be had, beginning with Bond’s nemesis Raoul Silva (played with fiendish delight by Javier Bardem.) As far as Bond villains go, Bardem qualifies as the biggest name to tackle 007 since Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill. Trouble is, it takes almost half of the film’s 143-minute runtime before we see him. When Bardem does finally appear, Skyfall takes off like a runaway train (literally!)

Bardem is one of the most interesting actors around, so it makes sense that his villain would be equally compelling. Silva is a former MI6 agent with a grudge to grind for his former boss (M) ‘Mommy was very bad.’ He’s also not afraid to solicit 007 by any means necessary (including seduction) to which Bond can only reply, ‘What makes you think this is my first time.’ Oh James!

While Bardem fascinates every second he’s on screen, the film’s plot (eerily similar to Mission: Impossible and its NOC list storyline) is downright lazy and almost dull. The movie’s theme is unusually dark, and void of glamour. Thankfully, that doesn’t include beautiful women (I can live without the gadgets, but don’t mess with my Bond girls!) Naomie Harris (remember Miami Vice? Yowza!) gives a mean shave, while Bérénice Lim Marlohe warrants a picture credit (see above) over several bigger names. I’ll take your silence to indicate you agree with my decision to highlight this month’s Ms. DC Film Review (she’s won already) over Craig or Bardem.

New characters are introduced with great frequency... A changing of the guard (pun intended) if you will. Joining the fray are Ralph Fiennes as M’s new boss Gareth Mallory, Harris as field agent Eve Moneypenny and a decidedly younger Q (Ben Whishaw) who does more work with a computer than he does creating and dispensing gadgets (one of my favorite parts of 007 films past.) Perhaps he’ll grow into the role; who knows?

Skyfall runs a little long, but the second half plays far better than the first... so you don’t notice it nearly as much. The series gets back on track after 2008’s disastrous Quantum of Solace and I can hardly wait for #24 (due in theaters, late 2014.) I miss the gadgets as much as James does, ‘Gun and a radio? Not exactly Christmas.’ but Skyfall is an important (and necessary) bridge in the history of 007. I can’t wait to see what’s on the other side.

Grade: B