REVIEW: 007 rises to perfection in ‘Skyfall’

By Jared Huhta

Jared Huhta (Photo by Mike Ayers)

WARNING: this review is extremely biased. When I saw “Skyfall,” the first James Bond film since 2008, I knew I would love it simply because it was, well, James Bond’s newest film and I’m, well, a Bond fan boy. But after the 007 theme blared at the closing credits, my jaw dropped and I applauded right there in theatre. Move over Batman, Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America. Agent 007 is back in the best movie of 2012.

“There’s some men coming to kill us. We’re got to kill them first.”

Celebrating 007’s 50th year in cinema, “Skyfall” is the 23rd installment in the franchise, which began with 1962’s “Dr. No.” The film begins with Bond (Daniel Craig) and M (Judi Dench) frantically searching for a missing hard drive containing every location of MI6’s undercover agents. After the mission goes horribly wrong, Bond is assumed dead. In reality, he was “enjoying death,” as he says in the film, with a mixture of Heineken and loose women. Oh, James. But after Silva (Javier Bardem), a former British spy, bombs MI6 and releases the agents’ secret locations on YouTube, Bond reluctantly reports back to duty, albeit damaged and broken. The rest of the film is an intricate game of cat and mouse that has never been seen before in a 007 film. But most importantly, “Skyfall” is a complete return to form for author Ian Fleming’s historic secret agent.

“007 reporting for duty.”

Directed by Sam Mendes, “Skyfall” packs a talented cast of newcomers and familiar faces that finally fill iconic roles that have been missing in the past two Bond films. Ben Whishaw debuts as Q, the quirky mastermind behind MI6’s modern gadgets. Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris play Mallory and Eve, respectfully, and, without revealing too much of the plot, will play immense roles in the next Bond flick. Javier Bardem’s Silva, the blonde-haired bisexual villian, leaves the same haunting impression Heath Ledger’s Joker did in “The Dark Knight.” In fact, it’s hard to ignore the similarities between the two indelible roles. Finally, Judi Dench, appearing in her seventh and final Bond film, plays M, the head of MI6. It’s unfortunate this is M’s swan song as Dench’s remarkable acting skills really shine in “Skyfall” and could have easily been utilized more than they were in her previous 007 films.

“The name’s Bond. James Bond.”

But the stellar cast is lead by the best actor to ever portray 007. Daniel Craig makes his third appearance as Bond in “Skyfall,” after the stunning “Casino Royale” and the hollow “Quantum of Solace.” In “Skyfall,” Craig completely envelopes the James Bond we’ve come to love. He’s a stone-cold killer with timely one liners who always manages to catch a woman’s eye. But Craig adds even more layers to the iconic secret agent. Craig’s the first Bond to cry on screen, and it’s the most emotionally raw scene in any of the 23 films. It’s tough to think Pierce Brosnan once had this role, or anyone else for that matter. Sorry, Sean Connery, but Craig is hands down the best James Bond ever.

"Skyfall" stars Daniel Craig as James Bond. Photo provided by movieposterDB.com.

“Less of a random killing machine. More of a personal statement.”

“Skyfall” is a celebration of all things 007. There’s references to previous Bond moments, such as the exploding pen in “Goldeneye,” the torture scene in “Casino Royale,” and the return of Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 from “Goldfinger,” complete with an ejector seat and machine guns. When Craig says “Bond. James Bond” and orders a Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred, it’s almost as if he should say “You’re welcome” to the hardcore fans. But “Skyfall” is not just a sporadic collection of 007’s best moments. It adjusts the 50-year-old franchise to modern, realistic times. No longer is there a cheesy “Bond baddie” trying to destroy the world with a giant laser. Instead, Silva’s a deranged villain who quenches his revenge with technology. Rather than a jet pack, Q simply gives Bond a specialized Walther PPK. Sure, 007 battles a kimono dragon along with Heineken (product placement, anyone?) and old age, but it’s all real, a la the “Dark Knight” trilogy. This realism sets “Skyfall” apart from the older 22 Bond films.

“Resurrection.”

Yes, “Skyfall” is the best 007 film ever. Yes, Daniel Craig is the best actor to portray Bond. And yes, “Skyfall” will leave any audience shaken and stirred with its intense action, smart story and explosive ending. Welcome back, 007. “Bond 24” can’t come soon enough.

5/5 stars

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