AKA: Bond 23 (2012) - UK Working Title
AKA: Silver Bullet (2012) - UK Script Title
AKA: Sky Fall (2012) - Alternate English Title
AKA: Skyfall: The IMAX Experience (2012) - Imax Version
AKA: Silver Bullet (2012) - UK Script Title
AKA: Operation Skyfall (2012) - International English Title
AKA: 007 - Operation Skyfall (2012) - Alternate International English Title
AKA: 007 - Skyfall (2012) - Hungary/ Portugal
(Premiere Date: October 23, 2012 [London, UK])
(USA Release Date: November 09, 2012)
The REAL 007 is undeniably back!
I also happened to read a separate article (written by some other bozo) that postulated the theory that even in the Danjaq/ Eon films, there really was no singular, real 007 but that both "James Bond" and "007" are actually code names that are passed down over the generations to different agents in the same way that there have been more than one M and Q, for example. It's a fascinating hypothesis to say the least and it does warrant some fanboy attention. After all, this would explain why Judi Dench's M was calling Bond "a sexist, misogynist dinosaur" and "a relic of the Cold War" in 1995's Goldeneye but in 2006's Casino Royale she scoffs at the much younger and less experienced James Bond, saying "I knew it was too early to promote you." (in spite of the fact that this is clearly the same woman, eleven years later). See? Fascinating hypothesis.
However the more fanboy (and girl) attention it receives, the less this hypothesis holds up, especially if you know a little bit about James Bond's backstory. That is, unless they only assign this particular code name and number to gentlemen who have remarkably similar pasts. When watching 2012's Skyfall, however, this bold theory is thrown out the window, run over, backed up upon, tires squealed over it and then run over again. Skyfall makes the point very clearly that this is the same man with the same troubled past and the same brazen history (albeit rebooted) as before. In short, this is without question, Ian Fleming's original (very original) James Bond.
Of course, some of these familiar echoes might be less nods to history and True Fan Easter Eggs than recycled, borrowed plot elements. The "thanks" for this probably falls at the feet of writer John Logan who joined veteran Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on the Skyfall screenplay. Logan's plagiarism dwarfs the legendary, but he's become incredibly rich and famous doing it because... well... he usually pulls it off.
And Skyfall, AKA "Bond 23" is proof of that. Skyfall transcends its borrowed elements and near omnipresent product placement as well as its occasional logic leaps to become one of the best James Bond films to date (even when we recognize the saga echoes in more than a few plot areas).
The plot kicks off with an almost impossible bad guy chase through Turkish streets in which both Bond and his new field agent team up partner Eve (the beautiful Naomi Harris) pull off improbable feats and derring do in true Bond stunt fashion. This action packed and superbly shot and executed opening shows us a more compassionate Bond, as well as a more vulnerable Bond than we've seen many times before. He's a far cry from the brutal opening sequence from Casino Royale.
What makes this interesting is that Bond knows this and so does M... and so does the new Q (now played by 32 year old Ben Whishaw). Yes, one of the things apparently on John Logan's crib sheet would be the many times that James Bond has looked back on his life and career as a now-aging agent and became pensively introspective, with a younger, faster crop approaching both himself and M.
Setting aside that Bond actor Daniel Craig is, at the time of this film's release, only 44 years old himself, this might come off a bit stranger than, say, Connery doing this at age 53 in Never Say Never Again or Moore doing the same at age 58 in A View To A Kill. It works so well here because, yes, the script handles it well, but more importantly, Daniel Craig has the depth and pathos to sell it and director Sam Mendes has the intelligence to interpret these elements so well that none of this feels quite like something we've seen before.
James Bond isn't given a whole hell of a lot of time to think about it as he gets back into the Double-0 fold, as a certain supervillain cyber-terrorist named Silva (Javier Bardem ) starts to carry out his MI6 vendetta with a particularly harsh eye toward M herself.
Meanwhile, MI6 is alternately held together or torn apart from within England by newcomer Eves along with Minister Clair Dowar (Helen McCrory), Chief of Staff Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear) and Chairman Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes).
And if having Lord Voldemort in the British Government isn't scary enough, you should see the people Silva has backing him, like mercenary Patrice (Ola Pace) and the beautiful and mysterious Severine (Berenice Lim Marlohe). Luckily, Bond has a few wild cards backing him up like Kincade (Albert Finney).
Skyfall's biggest flaw is that the occasional point in an overall very smart plot tends to make little sense and the occasional character decision comes off as inconsistent. More than once, James Bond is put in a position in which he can save the lives of other characters, but chooses to wait until said characters have been killed to make any move at all, in spite of his establishment as a more compassionate, less cold Bond.
In truth, however, these things, along with the product placement and the re-used plot elements don't do a whole lot to taint an overall GREAT James Bond movie. Craig still shines as James Bond and proves to have much more of a range than even some of the best actors who have brought the character to life over the decades. Bardem is one of the most unique and chillingly enthralling Bond Villains to come along in many years. Bardem breathes a new and creepy kind of life into what could have been another repeated, stock Bond character. Judi Dench's M is given a larger part here than she has in any of her previous appearances and she owns most every scene she is in. She is aging and flawed, but the iron lady that she truly is beneath the surface is always shining through. Albert Finney is another notable acting stand-out.
The best parts of this film are when the plot lights upon some of the less-explored aspects of James Bond's past. These don't quite feel like gratuities to the deep, long-term fans out there as much as they feel like viable story points that validly move the story to an explosive and fantastic ending. Never does Mendes seem to be winking at the audience. These elements are beautiful to see, yes, but are far from haphazardly shoved into an unrelated storyline.
This is likely because Mendes has already cut his teeth on such character-driven films (with and without action) as American Beauty, Jarhead and Road to Perdition. The man can handle action, sure... but he never loses character in said action. In short, he's an excellent choice to direct a James Bond film.
And he is one of the main reasons that Skyfall works out to be one of the very best James Bond films ever made, surely worth Four Stars out of Five! Skyfall may not be a perfect film, but it wears its flaws very well and overcomes them to become one of the best films of its kind, deeper than it seems at first glance and much more entertaining than it has to be. In short, this is what Bond movies should be. So, until Skyfall II: Chicken Little's Revenge on Bond is released, I'll see you in The Next Reel!
M, Q, 007 of MI6...
Sounds like an algebra equation.
Click here for More Reviews and stare back at the MATH!
reviewed by J.C. Mašek III
Who is solely responsible for the content of this site
and for the fact that when Q delivers his lunch,
He still digs in, forgetting every time that it's going to explode.
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