Skyfall Review: Queue Slow Clap

It always makes me feel better to remember that Daniel Craig is just as Bow-Legged as I am…

I actually saw Skyfall in a Midnight IMAX Premiere this Wednesday night, but have not been able to sit down and write my review until now.  It hasn’t been easy to wait either, as my praise for the film has been bursting out of me whenever anybody has asked me about it over the past several days.  Now I’d been excited for Skyfall to come out for some time, I’m a huge fan of Daniel Craig as Bond and Quantum of Solace left me eager for the next film to redeem that movie’s mediocrity and return the series to the dizzying heights of Casino Royale.  Unfortunately, as most of my fellow reviewers are quite aware of, that level of expectation can be a terribly double-edged sword.  Sometimes that level of anticipation is rewarded, a la The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises, and the resulting cinematic experience is nothing short of breathtaking.  Other times, hype can raise the bar so high for a movie that even a respectable level of quality can produce a hugely disappointing effect *Cough Cough* Prometheus *Cough Cough*.  Luckily, early reviews from essentially everywhere else in the world beside the US suggested that the former was to be the case here, so I said “morning classes be Damned!” and bought a ticket for the Midnight opening this Wednesday.  Even after three more days of consideration, I still stand by my opinion that Skyfall is a triumphant return to greatness for this era of Bond and ranks as my third favorite 007 movie of all time after Casino Royale and Goldfinger.

The Plot:

First off, if you’re worried about forgetting where the ending of QoS left the series, don’t be.  Skyfall picks up on a completely new note and wisely acts almost as if the last film never happened.  The opening sequence involves Bond (Daniel Craig) and fellow MI-6 agent Eve (Naomi Harris) tearing through the streets and rooftops of Istanbul, pursuing a stolen  hard drive containing the identity of every NATO agent embedded in terrorist organizations around the world.  Unfortunately, hitting a moving target without a clean shot from a hundred yards away ends up being a bit on the difficult side for Eve, and the thief escapes leaving Bond missing, feared dead.  Three months later, MI-6 head “M” (Judi Dench) is facing the fallout from that mission when an attack on MI-6 headquarters leaves the organization reeling and summons Bond from his early retirement.  The rest is purely, simply Bond.

The Players:

At the risk of highlighting my age, I have to admit that Craig is my favorite Bond so far.  The opening scene of Casino Royale clearly established his edition of the character as one grounded in reality, adding a sense of visceral intensity to the character’s usual winking campiness.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Sean Connery but the tone of his Bond films rarely did more than entertain me.  Helped along by Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Craig’s portrayal of the character added an emotional depth to that entertainment value that is built on in Skyfall with Bond’s relationship with M as well as an exploration into his past.  That being said, this is still Bond, and along with that name we still get the action, the globetrotting glamour, as well as the necessary Bond Girls and dastardly villains that we come to expect.

With regards to the first of those 007 staples, we have Berenice Marlohe as Severine, who has some great chemistry with Craig but unfortunately isn’t given much to do besides looking gorgeous (Although she knocks it out of the park on that account).  A bit more meat is given to Javier Bardem as Silva, the film’s villain who’s finesse for cyber-terrorism is matched only by his desire for revenge against M and the rest of MI-6.  Bardem looks a bit odd as a blond and there were a few few scenes in which I couldn’t quite tell what sort of bad guy he was intended to be (especially one scene which starts off with Silva making an unexpected homosexual advance on a chair-bound Bond, which comes out of left field at first but ends up being pretty amusing with the way Craig plays off of it), but as the film builds towards its finale he firmly establishes himself among the franchise’s most imposing villains.

Judi Dench is sold as usual, no surprises there.  Naomi Harris is also a great presence whenever she’s on screen, and without spoiling anything I can at least tell you that this will not be the last we see of her.  Ralph Fiennes is one of my favorite British actors and when I heard he was joining the cast I was very excited, but like Marlohe he isn’t given that much to do.  I was pleasantly surprised by Ben Whishaw, who I really enjoyed in Cloud Atlas earlier this month and shines here Q.  Whishaw’s quiet self confidence is a great foil to Craig’s bravado.

The Verdict:  9.0/10  Incredible

Skyfall isn’t anything profound.  It didn’t change my life, it didn’t even do that much that hasn’t been done before my other similar films.  What it did do, however, was make me feel more justified in spending $18 for an IMAX ticket than I have in years.  Skyfall does everything it means to and does it damn well, from the incredibly ambitious and well-executed action sequences (including an amazing motorcycle chase across the rooftops of Istanbul) to the Home-Alone-On-Steroids finale.  Honestly, when it comes down to it I award scores based on how satisfied I was with the movie going experience, and Skyfall has the nowadays-rare combination of substance and presentation that should easily make it your first choice to see this fall.

Other Reviews:

Dan the Man Movie Reviews:  8.5/10

Fogs’ Movie Reviews:  A++

Fast Film Reviews:  4/5

Three Sentence Critic:  5/5

Marked Movies:  3.5/5

A Constant Visual Feast:  (Very Positive)

Cinemaniac Reviews:  A

Cutting Edge Creativity:  B+

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About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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27 Responses to Skyfall Review: Queue Slow Clap

  1. Mark Hobin says:

    People can debate endlessly about which Bond is best. Sean Connery routinely ends up the favorite choice. He does have an advantage since he played the part six times (7 if you count Never Say Never Again – which wasn’t an Eon Production) However Skyfall goes a long way in cementing Daniel Craig’s connection to the character. 3-4 more films of this quality and he just might give Connery a run for his money.

    Great review!

    • r361n4 says:

      Thanks :) I definitely agree about Craig’s long term potential to be the first name that pops into peoples’ minds when they think of the character, but I noticed that Skyfall marked a move for the creators towards a more Connery-like character than he initially was in Casino Royale as far as getting back to traditional Bond. The great thing is that Mendes manages to make the movie fun without sacrificing substance and avoids the sort of campiness that made some of the Pierce Brosnan movies so hard to take seriously.

  2. I saw it in IMAX, too. Freaking gorgeous, wasn’t it? LOL :D

    Thanks for the linkage, first of all, I appreciate that!

    You cracked me up with your lead, Craig is a little bow legged, aint he? Ha! I think I’m higher on Bardem than you are, and less high on the new Moneypenny, but we both agree that this is an incredible movie. I’m totally with you on that! :D

    • r361n4 says:

      I actually liked Bardem more after the movie than I did at parts during the movie. He seemed to suffer from the usual logical fallicies of Bond villains as far as why he had such an elaborate plan when he could’ve killed M in the explosion at MI-6, but the added factor of his slight insanity with his “think on your sins” mantra made that not as bad.

      Definitely looking forward to the next one! Also is A++ your highest score?

      • LOL. Yes. I think an A+++ might be a little TOO much. :D

        If you mean is Skyfall the only time I’ve given that, then, no. I did it four or five times last year and one other time this year (The Avengers)

      • r361n4 says:

        lol, nice, have you ever given out an A+++?

      • Tuulia says:

        I love the movie, and Craig and Bardem. A lot. And that’s putting it mildly, actually, but I won’t bore you with a longer version… ;)
        Anyway, I think you are completely wrong that Silva could have just killed M in the explosion at MI6. The goal was clearly not simply to kill M. Killing her without making her suffer first, without undermining her whole life’s work and reputation, without making her know who wanted to kill her and why… just not possible. Where would have been the fun and satisfaction for Silva? And the killing needed to be personal, too – not done impersonally by somebody paid to do it, or from a distance by a bomb or something.

      • r361n4 says:

        Lol, I completely understand where you’re coming from, I feel like I’d be a boringly practical Bond Villain. No “Before I kill you mr. Bond” bullshit, just dunk him in the shark tank and stay in the room until he’s completely devoured. Glad you enjoyed the movie though, I’m definitely looking forward to what comes next in the series :)

      • Tuulia says:

        I’m also very much looking forward to what they’ll come up with next. Oh and thank goodness you’re not in charge of writing the scripts, the franchise would have died swiftly, but in agony, roughly 49 years ago. ;)

  3. Mark Walker says:

    Great review Andy. I didn’t like it as much as yourself but it’s was a good flick. Casino Royale is still my favourite of Craig’s.

    • Mark Walker says:

      Oh.. And thanks for the link man. Much appreciated. :-D

      • r361n4 says:

        No worries! I love it when movies like this come out and there are plenty of reviews to provide links to :)

    • r361n4 says:

      Agreed on Casino Royale, after reading your review for Skyfall I do understand the issues you had with it but it just worked for me on a lot of levels. When does Lincoln come out in the UK by the way?

      • Mark Walker says:

        According the Imdb, Lincoln is released on 25th January. I’m assuming that’s the UK release as the US get it soon don’t they? Or already have it? I’m looking forward to that one

      • r361n4 says:

        It was released in a limited number of theaters this weekend and then expands nationwide next weekend, but early reviews have been very positive. That’s too bad that you guys won’t get it for so long, but then again you guys got to see The King’s Speech and The Iron Lady way before we did so I suppose it makes sense

  4. Great review. Freakin loved Skyfall. Unsure whether I prefer it over Casino Royale but it’s definitely up there with the best. Thought Bardem was immense and the whole film looked gorgeous.

    • r361n4 says:

      Did you see it in IMAX? For me it was the best use of the format I’ve seen in a very long time, the word gorgeous is definitely fitting. I think the reason I liked Casino Royale better is because of what it did to revive and legitimize a series that had been a bit tarnished over the previous decades, and the fact that it was financially successful as well is great since it ensured that we’d get to see movies like Skyfall being made

      • Nah I didn’t get to see it in IMAX, it’s a bit of a trek to the nearest one, which is a shame, I bet it looks amazing. I think Skyfall definitely needs another couple of viewings for me to decide where it sits in relation to the others, but I do lean slightly towards Casino Royale right now.

  5. CMrok93 says:

    Good review Andy. I liked this movie a lot and even though I won’t go so far as to say I loved it, I can definitely say it had me ready for what’s in store next for Bond. Hopefully, just hopefully, they can get a villain as memorable as Bardem here. God, that guy is just freakin’ magnificent.

    • r361n4 says:

      I’ve always felt that a bad guy works best when they’re highly capable an just a bit insane, and Bardem plays perfectly into that category. Who would you say your favorite Bond villain of all time is?

  6. Great review. Agree pretty much on everything. I quite enjoyed Skyfall.

  7. Mike Pampinella says:

    I love thinking of the last 25 minutes this way (Home-Alone-On-Steroids) and that statement captured it perfectly.

    Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I have to say Craig is the best Bond. A friend of mine nailed it when he said, “he has been able to balance the style with the grit”. I can’t think of an actor in my lifetime that has done that quite the way Craig has.

    • r361n4 says:

      Always appreciate it when people notice individual lines :)

      I’d have to agree with you about Craig, that phrase about captures it. I’m pretty sure he’s the favorite bond of Product placers everywhere as well, lol

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