Skyfall Review: Breathtaking, the Most Beautiful Bond Yet

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Skyfall Review: Breathtaking, the Most Beautiful Bond Yet

By Amanda Mae Meyncke | Film Reviews | November 9, 2012 | Comments ()


Skyfall is beautiful and brilliant, blunt and precise, wielding violence, contemplation and excellence in equal measure. The kind of movie that holds your rapt attention and makes you glad you went and saw it, which is a rarity these days, to be sure. Skyfall is wonderful, everything a Bond film should be -- meditations on purpose almost always overruled by a more pressing, immediate need for action on the part of our hero.

The plot is a delight to traverse, and as such I won't say much of it, except that James Bond (Daniel Craig) is accidentally dispatched for a time and presumed dead, only to return when M (Judi Dench) needs him most. Bond's spy games lead him straight to the foot of criminal mastermind Silva (Javier Bardem), whose mysterious machinations may prove destructive beyond belief.

For Bond there is no future, there is no past, there is only the present moment, turning into another present moment, on and on forever. This informs so many of Bond's actions and excuses him from the moral quandaries the rest of us face on a daily basis. But Bond's slowing down. As a character he is aging, and perhaps the film itself is a commentary on the societal notion of Bond, in this day and age of larger concerns, perhaps Bond is frivolous, unnecessary. His place in the world is tenuous, references to his aging are constant in the film and he's beginning to show the years, just around the edges. His normally unflappable exterior is chipping away and this was one of the first times we saw the real fallibility of the man.

The mechanics are impeccable, the pacing as accurate and tidy as a watch, and the editing so clean and fine you won't even notice it. The music by Thomas Newman is grandiose and obvious, and I wouldn't have it any other way. From beginning to end, the action is relentless and absorbing, never descending into treacherous, repetitive violence but each fight manages to remain a singular effort, memorable and vivid. They've tried to future-proof the film somewhat by avoiding too much outrageous tech, sticking to what plays best over time, explosions and guns, fists and flying feet. And work it does, as Skyfall seems to set yet another new standard of excellence for future films to attempt to top.

Daniel Craig inhabits the character so fully in every moment it's beginning to feel impossible to imagine anyone else in the role, strength and skill matched by a cunning intellect and rapier wit. Javier Bardem reinstates some of the jokey humor that has perhaps been missing from the past few Bond films, the whimsical villain with psychopathic tendencies, and Bardem excels at this kind of mastery of terror, all leering jack-o-lantern skull meeting the inconsistencies of the world with grim vigor. Ben Whishaw is gleaming perfection, smug and neat as a button, windswept hair tousled just so, a pleasant mixture of arrogance and awkwardness. Even Ralph Fiennes plays his emerging role nicely, although I wonder at the wisdom of allowing Voldemort in such close proximity to so many delicate Muggle security transmissions, but presumably the Ministry of Magic is monitoring such decisions.

Women in the Bond films, well, hundreds of thousands of words have been written about these wretched creatures, and Skyfall doesn't really offer them any respite. Bond has never kept a woman, does not seem to need them for much. The best you can hope to do as a Bond girl is bang your man and then die quickly, like a beautiful moth put upon this Earth for one purpose. Better luck next time, womankind. Women seem to be powerless against Bond and it'd be nice to see someone with a little gumption up against him, perhaps see him with an equal. Perhaps Rachel Weisz would like a part?

Parts of Skyfall are literally breathtaking in their scope and grandeur, the careful and thoughtful color composition taking on the backbreaking effortlessness of a Vogue editorial spread. Again, to say too much would be to ruin the joy that is to be found all on your own. Cinematographer Roger Deakins is a damn genius and coupled with director Sam Mendes' careful eye, this may just be the most beautiful Bond film yet. See it on a large screen, eschew the stuffing of self with popcorn and soda and allow the movie to sustain and fulfill you the way it should.

Because we can't all be perfect, I did spy one tiny foible, Bond's bow tie was tied unevenly in one scene. But even that may be intentional, an aging spy's forgoing of the usual niceties in pursuit of more important objectives.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Mr.Truth

    Warning all men.... this movie is a big steaming pile of crap, that women jerk off to.Avoid at all costs

  • Real man's view

    This movie was pure shit....It makes no sense at all....the Villain is a genius, who becomes an idiot. The only people who like this movies are demented women lusting for Daniel Craig. Worst Bond movie of all time. This movie was made to retire an aging actress, and gives no value to the character of bond.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You worry about Voldemort, but he's clearly already infiltrated Parliament, as Narcissa Malfoy was the MP sitting right near him.

    Overall, movie was mostly good - though the last 45 minutes were dissatisfying. I don't mind a "dark-ish" Bond but a bleak, not my cup of tea.

  • DrDysentery

    What I think this review fails to mention about Skyfall: Dial M for Mommy Issues is that IT'S BORING! So boring! And of course that's not a fair critique and usually a self proclamation of ignorance about a movie that is too artistic or has subtitles but I feel like it applies to nearly every aspect of this film. The action was boring, the sidekicks were boring, the jokes (apart from an unintentional quip about Idaho that went over smashingly in my state) were dull, and the villain was a complete snooze (an effeminate European? what a concept!). What made Casino Royale such a massive success was that it was a good action movie first and a Bond movie second. In many ways it was an anti-Bond movie, which is why we accepted a tough and rough edged Craig and quickly forgot about his sleek and sleazy predecessors (including nice guy Bond Timothy Dalton). But Skyfall seems to lack Royale's confidence and does a half turn back to the old world of Bond that leaves it a confused and dare I say boring mess. There's nothing wrong with the stylized Bond films. Their proliferation is evidence enough of that. But either do it or don't. The point of reinventing the canon is to do just that. But after only three movies, new Bond trying to look a little like old Bond but without the sleaze and without the charm.

  • BlackRabbit

    Honestly, the weak point was Javier Bardem. Why did I care about him? No intriguing backstory, really. He was just crazy for crazy's sake. And the blonde hair and eyebrows were just distracting, not to mention the eeevil homosexual vibe. Sorry, perhaps I missed something, I just kept thinking he was Bond's Joker, and not in a good way.

  • cicatricella

    We went to see it this evening; we were very impressed and Noemie Harris was great. Loved all the references back to previous Bond flicks, tho apparently we were the only people in the cinema who got the jokes.

  • $27019454

    It is SO late (for me) but I just came home from this and I think it is one of my top 5 Bonds, and certainly my favorite Daniel Craig Bond. Javier Bardem gave me the HEEBIE JEEBIES. Excellent all around. Spectacular stunts! Great chemistry with Naomie Harris. Loved this.

  • Cree83

    I came away from this movie super annoyed by how stupid and poorly executed the villain's plot was. I was ready to call this one the dumbest movies I'd seen this year. My husband tells me though, that I just haven't seen enough Bond films; I've only seen the recent Daniel Craig ones. I'm told that the villain's plot in this movie was more of a callback to the old school Bond movies, the kind that Austin Powers spoofed (prompting Seth Green's character to ask: "Why don't you just shoot him now?" instead of the roundabout way Dr. Evil wants). So, I guess I'm willing to concede that it was just my ignorance of the way things work in the James Bond universe that made me dislike it. I did like the first half of the movie though. And Bardem was a lot fun to watch, even if his plan made no sense.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I just saw the film last night, so reading reviews now - I agree with this. for me there were a few big holes [SPOILER] - how does Silva get to keep that mouthpiece when in his Hannibal Lecter-esque prison? isn't that something that would pick up on scans?

    I enjoyed the movie overall, but found the last 45 minutes (and especially the end of the action) disappointing. I did love the very end though - that's absolute homage to classic Bond.

  • Blake

    Beautiful but ultimately empty… Part origin story / part reboot. I want the dark gritty Bond that appeared in flashes in Craigs first two movies and not a new take or hybrid with the Bronsan / Moore version of the character.

    +1 for Winshaw and Fiennes / - 1 for Harris

    Side note: If I need back up Bond is fourth on my speed dial behind Archer, Bourne and NPH.

  • Skyler Durden

    I adored this movie; it was my favorite Bond film yet. It was also the only Bond film that I could follow. I have a bit of a learning disability when it comes to espionage thrillers.

    Javier Bardem was wonderful, and that initial meeting of Craig and Bardem....

    I won't spoil it here, but I was rocking a massive semi. Or whatever the girl equivalent of a semi is.

  • Great movie, just missed Casino Royale greatness but that may be because I've just gotten back and only seen Skyfall once. It's like the keepers of Bond realized they cocked up the re-boot with the lackluster epilogue in Quantum of Solace and decided to re-launch the series again. Meaning it took a trilogy for the series to truly restart. That may be excessive but since those 3 are among the best in the series I'll take it. Looking forward to the next. If the ending of Skyfall is any indication, it should be quite a bit of fun.

    These are lite spoilers so tread carefully:

    I was surprised by how affecting it was to see Bond off his game. Missing the practice target entirely, collapsing after the pull ups, even just looking broken down and unshaven while drinking a beer in a rundown beach bar. Then finding out how poorly he did on all the tests later was just brutal. Daniel Craig was really terrific in Skyfall. He portrayed Bond as a fallible human being and was riveting in every scene.

  • Uncle Mikey

    How many times does he say pooperize?

  • Irina

    I usually hate Bond movies (I fell asleep during Quantum of Solace) but this one is really good. Not perfect but very entertaining, and Javier Bardem was sublime. Oh and the "M - Bitch" association was awesome.

  • TheAggroCraig

    I also noticed the bow tie thing. I mean, really, if you're going to take the time to tie one, do it right, for God's sake. On a more serious note, I LOVED the introduction of Silva. Letting Bardem casually walk the length of the room while delivering that monologue and never cutting away was perfect.

  • Overall, I thought it was good, but not great. Craig does inhabit Bond, but the charm is missing. I see hints of it here and there, and I think Craig has it in him, but they don't write him that way.

    I thought the pacing was odd--while the action sequences were very good, there were at least two if not three segments of the film where it slowed down to the point where I was distracted and looking at the seats in front of me, waiting for something interesting to happen. I thought the whole casino sequence could easily have been dropped, as well as the island. I know I sound nitpicky; perhaps my hopes were too high. Let's not even talk about the girl who introduced Bond to Javier's character...she was awful. And why did Bond get into the shower with her? Zero chemistry.

    Javier was a wonderfully odd, interesting and funny villain, but he was not himself a physical foe. His plans seemed overly elaborate for his end goal, and when he got to the point where he could have done something...well, what happened happened.

    The opening sequence was wonderful, Shanghai, and I adored both Q and Eve (with whom Craig did have great rapport and chemistry)--Dench, Fiennes and Finney are always great. Definitely worth seeing, but the more I thought about things...

  • zeke_the_pig

    Pretty much completely agreed, especially with your pacing critique. I went as a Bond-hater, but I decided to check my bias at the door, because why not enjoy more things in life, right? Essentially the good action bits were enjoyable, and impressive, but it couldn't convince me to care much about...well, anyone. And that was with me watching it drunk in order to blunt critical faculties. If the series could keep going in this direction, though, then I might actually care about the two dimensional MI6 killing machine and his posh, stiff upper lip handlers in about 5 films or so.

  • junierizzle

    I thought it was just okay. But to be honest Im not a Bond fan. The only ones Ive seen are Goldeneye and this one. It has good action but I saw nothing cool in this movie that made me admire him as a character. I knew he was good with the ladies but I think that was just writing. "Now Girl sleeps with Bond because he is Bond"

  • Less Lee Moore

    Great review! Really I just commented to get all excited about the movie. I haven't stop thinking about it since I saw it earlier today. LOVE!

  • emmelemm

    I almost never see big "blockbuster" opening movies on opening weekend (because I hate humanity's teeming masses), but I'm seeing this tomorrow and I'm SO EXCITED you guys!

  • Ley

    Yeah, it was great and all that. But, man, Javier Bardem's hair was terrible. Mind you, I count that as a positive as I enjoyed the film even more because of that.

  • Anne At Large

    Think of him in No Country For Old Men. I think he has bad hair written into all his villain roles so it is easier to get into character or something.

  • Natallica

    As long as Mendes is directing, I don't think Weisz's would like to be a Bond Girl, considering he's her ex boyfriend. That would make for a very awkward set. Hell, things MUST have been awkward just with Mendes and Craig interacting

  • InternetMagpie

    Mendes' is Kate Winslet's ex-partner. Rachel Weisz's ex-partner is Darren Aronofsky.

  • Natallica

    Before Mendes hooked up with Kate, he did date Rachel:

  • Slash

    I do think Craig is the best Bond in the best Bond movies. Whoever's doing them now knows their shit. I actually thought Pierce Brosnan was pretty damn good, too. He just aged out of the franchise, so to speak, or he could still be doing them.

  • BobbFrapples

    I will see it this weekend!

  • Lemon_Poundcake

    I saw this last night, and couldn't sleep for hours afterwards. It's so, so good. And you're right, no one else can play Bond at this point.
    There were also a couple of cheeky nods to the earlier Bond flicks. I can only assume this was a way to subtlety honor the series for it's 50th anniversary, and it totally worked.

  • brite

    I saw this last weekend and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Daniel Craig has finally replaced Connery as Bond for me. He (Craig) is everything Fleming meant Bond to be...ruthless, amoral, loyal and tireless in his efforts to be the best assassin he can be. After all these years, having grown up in the 60's, the new Bond legend feels more like reality and less like some shoot em up/chase/gadget filled movie.

    Great review!

  • Puddin

    The hubs and I have had this on the calendar 4-EVA! Sneaking in a water bottle full of martinis this evening. Huzzah!

  • Malin

    I love that I've seen this movie twice before it's even released in the States (it opened October 26th in Norway). I think I loved it even more on my second viewing.

    Also, I want to do bad bad things to Ben Wishaw in this film. The glasses, the outfit, the tousled hair - what can I say? I have a thing for geeky guys.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Rachel Wesiz. As a Bond girl.

    Here's thing-- it's hard to retire to my bunk with a blown mind. I shall give it my best effort, though.

  • brutus

    You can't have a strong Bond girl because Craig's Bond is ruined by the death of Vesper Lynd. Vesper had the "gumption" Amanda describes in spades - which was a big reason this incarnation of Bond was so crazy about her...and so devastated by her death.

    I think it's a wonderful idea with the next version of Bond, but to me this doesn't make sense with Daniel Craig.

    This wasn't really a response to LPT - I just wanted to keep the Rachel Weisz stuff together :-)

  • prince_of_montagu

    I totally agree. It is hard for any of these girls to compete with someone like Vesper.

  • Fredo

    Going tomorrow. Can't wait.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Me too! Hubs and I are more than a little excited.

  • Luke

    I saw this in IMAX and it was gorgous! Worth the $$$. The one thing I thought throughout the movie was that I wish this wasn't a Bond film because it will be pidgeon holed (I have friends who hate Bond movies and refused to join me because of that) as another Bond movie. While you couldn't have the motives or background of this movie without it being Bond, this film was so much more than the normal Bond/action fare.

  • It was so good! I went and saw it at the midnight showing. Javier Bardem is an excellent Bond villain and I thought the movie did a really good job of referencing prior Bond movies as well as introducing the future of the Bond franchise. I loved seeing Naomie Harris again - she was so great in 28 Days Later. (According to she was in some of the Pirates sequels, but I'm avoiding those like the plague.)

    All of that aside, Judy Dench's performance as M was amazing - subtle, filled with feeling, and a lesson on the burden of responsibility. As much as I love Shakespeare in Love, this was much more of an Academy Award caliber performance than her Queen Elizabeth. It seems funny to be gushing about JD when this should be all about Daniel Craig, but she's onscreen much more in this movie than she has been in the past.

    And, it goes without being said, Daniel Craig is an awesome Bond. :)

  • BWeaves

    He has no eyes. Zombond (TM)

  • Mrs. Julien

    Then this is officially the first time I have ever been interested in anything zombie-related. Plus, you know, my stays are tearing.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Can't wait, thanks for the great review.

  • space_oddity

    Seeing this tomorrow. Most excited I've been to see a Bond movie in a long, long time.

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