Skyfall (2012) Movie Review

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Daniel Craig in Skyfall (2012) Movie Image

With “Casino Royale”, Daniel Craig stepped up and owned the living hell out of the role of James Bond. After Pierce Brosnan’s turn as the iconic British spy, which never felt like much more than a caricature of Sean Connery, Craig’s vaguely psychotic rendition of Bond brought life back to a franchise that had become stale. Craig plays the part with a callous coldness that gives a gritty, real-world edge to the character.

His next effort, “Quantum of Solace”, was a lesser attempt, one that fell flat on almost every level. “Skyfall”, the 23rd film in the Bond cannon, is something of a rubber match in Craig’s tenure as 007. He has one victory under his belt, but he also blew game two, and blew it bad. With “Skyfall” you get to see how he, and the franchise, respond to that misstep. The results prove that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan, and this film is every bit as good, if not better, than “Casino Royale”.

Daniel Craig in Skyfall (2012) Movie Image

In “Skyfall” Craig brings a rough-edged swagger back to the role. With Academy-Award-winning director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) at the helm, this is also the most personal Bond story since “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. That chapter, the only one with George Lazenby, gives a different view of a character you think you know. You experience Bond genuinely in love, and bear witness to his world being rocked by tragedy like nowhere else in his 50-year history. “Skyfall” also shows Bond in a new, different light, and does something no other films have done: pull back the curtain and offer a glimpse into his shadow-crowded past. The script also has way more laughs than you might expect.

“Skyfall” embraces Bond’s history, and includes in-jokes and touches that fans of the series will get a kick out of. At the same time it dispenses with some of the more tiresome, tedious clichés. He bangs every beautiful woman he meets, drinks a martini, and you get a banter-filled meeting between Bond and Q, played with youthful snark by Ben Whishaw (“Cloud Atlas”). This exchange, however, is more practical in nature rather than the handing out of random gadgets and gizmos that have become little more nonsensical and annoying plot devices as time went on. Young Q is actually pretty rad, and serves as the onscreen embodiment of the old versus new/young versus old/technology versus humanity theme that permeates the film.

Ben Whishaw in Skyfall (2012) Movie Image

True to form, “Skyfall” begins with a fast-paced scene to get your attention. However this is one of the best instances of rising action you’ll see in any film this year, and you’re not likely to find a better chase scene anytime soon. After falling to what most assume is his death, Bond disappears for months, wallowing in alcohol, a tropical beach, and bitterness, feeling betrayed by mother figure M (Judi Dench). Still, he has an itch, a desire to get his groove back and return to his old life. It takes an explosive attack on MI6, and a missing list of deep-cover agents, to bring him back into the fold. Bruised and broken, both mentally and physically, he starts a globetrotting search for those responsible.

The biggest issue with “Quantum of Solace” is that, while it has all of the bells and whistles, the action is overblown and there is never anything at stake, or any potential for disappointment. You never for one moment believe that Bond might not save the day. In “Skyfall”, he is so worn down, so beaten up by every facet of life, that failure is a very real possibility. It makes him human and relatable in a rare way, or at least as much as an international man of espionage can be.

Javier Bardem in Skyfall (2012) Movie Image

As a counterpoint to this emotional weight, you have Javier Bardem as Silva, the primary antagonist of “Skyfall”. Over the top, and sporting a ridiculous blond wig, he plays a flamboyant foil to 007. Bond soaks in his vengeance-fueled drive. Silva, on the other hand, goes about his intricate plots with a gleeful zest. One is all shadow, the other all light—another pervasive theme of the film, whether or not technology has removed all shadow and grey area from the modern world. This trend of opposites even extends to their appearances: Bond’s face is all worry lines and hard-earned creases, while Silva’s is smoothed out and decadent.

“Skyfall” is big and fast and feels like a Bond movie in all the ways you want it to, but doesn’t feel like a Bond movie in ways that have become hackneyed and insufferable. The outcome delivers the best of both worlds. Full of winks and nudges, the movie concludes with a scene sure to please longtime fans of the franchise, and is the most satisfying—emotionally and action wise—episode in the family in quite a long time.

Same Mendes (director)/Neal Purvis (writer)/Robert Wade (writer)/John Logan (writer)
CAST: Daniel Craig…James Bond
Javier Bardem…Silva
Judi Dench…M
Naomie Harris…Eve
Ben Whishaw…Q


Buy Skyfall on DVD

Author: Brent McKnight

Brent McKnight lives in Seattle with his dogs. He likes beards, movies where things explode, and overcast skies. His three favorite movies are "Rubin and Ed", "A Bittersweet Life", and "Out for Justice". He wishes his knees didn't hurt. On Twitter @BrentMMcKnight
  • venom_aa

    I like Solace a lot more than Skyfall. Skifall suffers of trying to do too much in so little time. Not bad, but it felt overextended and flat. I do like Craig as Bond and i hope he keeps doing the franchise.

    • Juggernaut

      Craig is excellent in the role and hopefully he returns for a few more but when the innevitable changing of the guard comes I really hope that they go with ether Michael Fassbender or Luke Evans to replace him.

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

        I could see Fassbender. Or Evans actually. But I’m for the idea of Idris Elba in the part. Or Chiwetel Ejiofor.

  • http://www.grifiti.com Tin Hoang

    Solace wasn’t as good as Casino Royale, but you can’t really blame Craig for that. The story nor the bad guy was very compelling.

    Can’t wait to see Skyfall though. Hopefully the people flock to Twilight so i can get me a ticket to Skyfall.

    And what’s up with the old folks lining up for Twilight? Local news showed people camped out in downtown, and they were way past the demographics for that movie.

  • dred

    skyfall is the best bond ever? i dont think so! and its OVERCLAIMED….ide of action is underate than bond movies before…drama tention OK.., but why sam mendez lost action in most of all this movie..only istambul chase on opening which better one…..tube station,fighting scene,raul attack wow.. tasteless..

    • http://www.grifiti.com Tin Hoang

      I was worried about the action sequences with Mendes as the director. The previous bond had issues with the action as well using a non-action director to helm it.

    • venomAA

      what drama?, must have missed those parts after Bardem appeared. First 30 minutes of the movie are great, after that is all downhill.

  • Xen11

    The movie is good, but its not that great nor anywhere near the mind-blowing best Bond film ever: Casino Royale.

    • http://www.grifiti.com Tin Hoang

      which casino royal?

      • Xen11

        The Daniel Craig starring, Martin Campbell directed, superb (2006) film.

  • Seel75

    For Starters:
    Invading a Courtroom with only 5 henchman? And this right in the middle of you escape?

    This Bond Movie is not in the Top10 of Bond movies.

  • Lexavi80

    I still think Casino Royal is the best Daniel Craig Bond movie.

    Skyfall, after the first sequence, becomes such a boring and quiet movie for at least 1 hour. Feels like everybody talks in whispers.

    Things start moving right after Javier Bardem appears on screen, but the first half of the movie affected my mood so much that the rest just felt ok.

    The beauty of Casino Royal was that I didn’t need to know all about Bond to enjoy it. Skyfall have a lot of references of the classic Bond movies that a casual fan will miss them and fail to enjoy much of the film.

    Plus (KIND OF A SPOILER), there was a scene in which the bad guy destroys something that belongs to 007, and this (for the first time in the movie) shows emotion (anger), followed by the Bond Theme on full volume. That felt SO childish that it really felt disappointed of Sam Mendez.

  • Pinakin

    I personally liked “Skyfall”..it is much slower than any other bond film, has almost no Gadgets and whatever gadgets it has are very simple and uncomplicated. I think Javier Bardem is the best thing in “Skyfall”. Sam Mendes has made the most un-bond bond movie till date. He made a bond movie in which characters are more normal and realistic. That is both a plus and minus point of this movie. But as a movie its very good. As a pure bond movie..it does not feel like a bond movie…maybe he went witht he current trend of making realistic and normal stuff out of larger than life characters…but even the last Transporter movie was more like a true Bond Movie than Skyfall. Still watch it as a normal movie and you will love Skyfall.

  • http://hit-movies-com.blogspot.com/ Jhonson

    Awesome movie..and best review i have ever read

  • Juggernaut

    Simply put, this is the best Bond film ever. I never thought that the opening sequence of Casino Royale would ever be outdone. However, the prologue to this installment blew it out of the water! The personal nature and simplistic elements of the plot were spot on in my opinion. Craig was terrific. His relationship with the MI6 and “M” in particular was superb. The supporting characters and nods to the previous films and elements from the novels were great. Everything in the movie was outstanding but I’d argue that Javier Bardem’s performance was not only the best part of the movie, it may be the best part of the Craig fronted trilogy and in my opinion the best Bond villain to date. Like Heath Ledger’s Joker, Bardem’s charismatic and terrifying portrayal of Silva heightened the cannon and took the series to new heights.

    • Logan

      I couldn’t agree more, i thought it was (as the British say) brilliantly done on all levels; slight homages to the fans, good action, and a wonderful drama filled plot.

  • dred

    i think mendez doesn’t work with james bond skyfall…well drama part its ok.. like the dark character, frustation acting, bond weakness problem…but why the action in gonna be victim…