Cast: James Bond (Daniel Craig), Silva (Javier Bardem), Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), Eve (Naomie Harris), Severine (Berenice Lim Marohe), Q (Ben Whishaw), Tanner (Rory Kinnear), Patrice (Ola Rapace), Kincade (Albert Finney), M (Judi Dench)
Director: Sam Mendes
Theatrical release: 11/09/2012 DVD Date: 02/12/2013
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 143 minutes
Note(s): Original screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan, based on a character created by Ian Fleming.
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Review: Daniel Craig reprises his role as James Bond, 007 in this 23rd — or 25th, depending on how you count them — entry of the film franchise. The storyline is a simple one: someone intimately familiar with the operation of MI6 has targeted the agency in general, its director M in particular. Bond returns from the dead to find out who.
The opening chase sequence is a spectacular one, certainly one the best ever filmed. Bond is in Istanbul to recover a stolen list of agents and when he grapples with the man who has taken it atop a moving train, he is shot by another agent and presumed dead. The man with the list gets away. Months pass and it isn't until MI6 headquarters is bombed that Bond returns, still weakened from the ordeal and almost hopelessly out of shape. Still, M assigns him to lead the team to discover who has the list, and what their ultimate purpose is.
There is much to like and enjoy in this film. The performances of Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are first rate, as are Naomie Harris as Eve (the agent who "kills" Bond) and Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory (the government official who thinks M and Bond are old school and need to be replaced). I wasn't particularly taken with the new Q (Ben Whishaw), but I can see what the producers wanted to do with the role. Probably the part I found least credible was that of the villain (Javier Bardem as Silva). Yes, he's menacing but in a Batman-style cartoon villain sort of way. Kind of silly, really. And it almost seems as if the screenwriters or editors or director didn't quite know what to make of him either. Whenever he is called upon to demonstrate his brilliance or skill or whatever makes him who he is, the scene quickly cuts away and we're left with imagining how it all went. It is altogether a poorly developed, very shallow character, hardly the kind of challenge we expect for Bond in these films.
The film has a great look to it, with a variety of settings, from the hustle and bustle of Istanbul to the bright lights and sleek buildings of Shanghai to exotic Macau and finally to the remote and desolate Scotland childhood home of Bond, which gives the film its name. The action sequences are well timed and the overall pacing of the film is quite good.
The relatively simple and straight-forward storyline works well here, too. Anything more complicated would have been much to absorb given everything else that is going on.
I enjoyed Skyfall and recommend it. It's a nearly perfect action film, and the only thing holding me back from giving it a 4-star rating is Bardem's character. I still can't quite put my finger on what it is that doesn't work for me, but something is not right here.