directed by Sam Mendes
(MGM, 2012)

I love James Bond, and I love Daniel Craig as James Bond. Steps to modernize the British spy that began with the introduction of Pierce Brosnan in the role truly solidified once Craig stepped in -- he's grittier, less reliant on gadgets, all around less a '60s-era playboy.

That said, Skyfall is no Casino Royale.

There are some holes in the plot that are best ignored if you're simply in the mood to enjoy some Bond action. For instance, the thrilling opening scene has a lot going for it -- until Bond takes a bullet in the chest and continues fighting as if it were no worse than a paper cut. Then he takes a second bullet, again in the chest, and falls a great height before drowning -- only to turn up alive, well and slightly out of shape several months later, with no explanation for his stunning survival.


The villain Silva (Javier Bardem) fails to evoke menace, and the number of lucky happenstances that further his plan run quickly beyond the scope of sustainable disbelief. The film lacks memorable Bond women, too ... although Judi Dench continues to set a new bar as M.

Ben Whishaw, on the other hand, makes for a disappointing Q -- young and thoroughly modern, he's no longer a gadgets guy, just some dude who's good with computers.

I won't go into detail about the final sequence, but despite an exciting gun battle on a deserted Scottish estate, the movie quickly went stale for me here. It was way too far over the top -- which in a Bond movie is saying something. And, given that Bond's big plan ultimately failed -- he got the bad guy, of course, but at a pretty steep cost -- I can't imagine our hero will be back in favor at MI6 any time soon. Hell, in real life he'd be up on charges.

By the way, I've seen a lot of chatter online from folks complaining about the "surprise twist" that reveals M to be Bond's mother. Folks, no. Just no. Sure, he calls her "mum" a few times, but that's a British term of respect for an older woman. It doesn't mean she's his mommy. Sheesh.

I'm glad Craig has held onto the role -- it looked iffy there for a while, with studio funding for the long-running Bond series in jeopardy -- but I'll trust this to be a minor slip, not the start of a downward slide a la Pierce Brosnan's Bond (which got progressively worse with each film). Get it back, Craig -- make sure the next one is solid.

review by
Tom Knapp

16 February 2013

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