Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Skyfall - Guest Review

Skyfall - 143min - PG13
C. L. Cadwallader

I love James Bond movies. I watched "For Your Eyes Only" at least a dozen times on HBO when I was a kid. It hooked me on Bond and I've stayed hooked. I am not ashamed to say that I can find something to like about every single Bond movie from "Dr. No" forward. I like Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Brosnan. I even like Timothy Dalton.

Above all these movies and actors that I have enjoyed, Daniel Craig's performance as Bond in 2006's "Casino Royale" ranks #1 in my book. "Skyfall" is Craig's third turn at Bond, and he continues his portrayal of a harder, more visceral secret agent for the 21st Century -- more reliant on basic bullets and brains than snazzy devices from Q and witty repartee. Here we see a Bond who is far from invulnerable. He's suave and tough of course he rocks a tuxedo like no one else, but if you cut him, he bleeds. "Skyfall" goes out of its way to show us Bond as a person -- someone with a past who exists in a dangerously real world. I give it a green light as an exciting and entertaining continuation of a series I hope to continue seeing for decades to come.

In the traditional Bond cold-open "Skyfall" shows us Bond and his young female protégé chasing a lost computer hard drive through Istanbul. The chase ends when Bond is shot and presumed killed by friendly fire. Bond returns to action when an attack takes out MI-6 headquarters. His quest to find those responsible leads him to Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI-6 agent with a serious axe to grind against M (Judi Dench). In the meantime, M has problems of her own, in the form of MP Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) who thinks she no longer has what it takes to run a 21st Century intelligence operation.

Every performance in this movie is top-shelf. Daniel Craig is as smooth and tough as ever. Judi Dench is terrific as a woman born to be tough, but with just the right touch of sentiment and humor. Javier Bardem is creepy, brilliant and diabolical like the Bond villains of old. And how can you go wrong with actors like Ralph Feinnes and Albert Finney supporting roles?

If there was one thing to criticize about this movie, it would be the 143 minute running time. The third act drags on a bit while we set up for the inevitable final confrontation. Once we got to that fight though, I forgot about checking my watch (and breathing at times) and went along for an action-packed ride worthy of any Bond film.

Long live Bond. When is 24 coming out?

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