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Bond Is a Badass 

'Skyfall' may be the best 007 film of all time

Skyfall is my all-time-favorite Bond movie.

Mind you, this is coming from a guy who didn't really get it when it came to James Bond. I've warmed up to him over the years, but I used to hate him. The first time I witnessed Bond in action was as a boy, seeing Sean Connery use a bikini top to choke her in Diamonds Are Forever. This act scared the shit out of me, and made me think Bond was some sort of bad guy. (I had similar child-brain confusion with Robert Shaw's Quint in Jaws ... he was just so mean.)

When I was "coming of age," so to speak, Bond got silly, with Roger Moore and stuff like Moonraker and Octopussy. I turned my adolescent attention to the likes of Star Wars, Rocky and The Pink Panther movies. It wasn't until Pierce Brosnan took over the franchise that I started to think the enterprise was OK. Then, I went back and watched the Sean Connery films, and realized those were actually a lot of fun. Sean Connery's Bond was a misogynist, but he wasn't a bad guy.

Which brings me to Daniel Craig (after skipping over George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton ... hey, I have a limited word count). Craig IS James Bond to me at this point. He's made three Bonds in a row that I can tolerate—and Skyfall is a showstopper.

It has a Bond villain that I count as the most memorable since, say, the goofy Jaws guy with the teeth from the Moore era. Javier Bardem plays Silva, a former agent who has a major bug up his ass regarding M (the awesome Judi Dench). His first meeting with a tied-up Bond is perhaps Bond's best meeting ever with one of his adversaries. It's also perhaps the most erotic, which took me a bit by surprise. Bardem relishes a good bad-guy role, as he proved in his Oscar-winning turn in No Country for Old Men. He's a genuinely funny and nasty creep.

Skyfall has stunts and chases that had me fully engaged. When Bond faces off with an assassin atop a moving train crossing over a series of bridges and going through tunnels, it amounts to the year's best action sequence ... and that's before the opening credits.

Those credits, by the way, are a series of astonishing visuals set to a beautiful Bond song—the title track delivered by Adele. As the opening credits played out, I was hooked already, and it only got better from there.

This one comes courtesy of director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), and it's clear that he has a tremendous amount of love and respect for the icon. While the movie gives us an older and arguably dated Bond, it also shows us that a man who is good with a gun and popular with the ladies might win out over megabytes after all.

As for the ladies, there are a few, and they don't register as much as past Bond women. Naomie Harris is on hand as Eve, a fellow agent and sharpshooter. Harris is fine, and she shares an interesting shaving sequence with Bond, but she doesn't make an indelible impression. Maybe it's because she should've been called Serenity Bottoms or some other naughty name. Those tend to stick.

Bérénice Marlohe plays Sévérine, a girl with a tough past—and an even tougher future. She's fine, but again, she doesn't truly register.

The one lady who makes a big impression this time out is Dench's M, who shares a funny, sometimes caustic and somehow sweet, motherly relationship with Bond. This movie pulls her into the plot more than past efforts (including those with Brosnan; she's been around for a while). Mendes offers some great odes to past Bonds, including a sweet Aston Martin and some funny wordplay. By the time Bond faces off with Silva in the film's finale, we get a true sense of vintage Bond as much as future Bond.

There's also some typical product placement, including pitches for Cadillac, Heineken and, surprisingly, Sony VAIO. The film's new and much-younger Q (Ben Whishaw) is seen prominently using a Sony laptop. I found this relatively implausible. Those things freeze up way too much for a high-level British agent to be utilizing one during a tense good-versus-evil showdown. I had one once, and it met its demise by being smashed on the corner of my coffee table after one too many blue screens of death.

This dark, brooding and somewhat deep Bond is a Bond I'm more interested in as a moviegoer. No more choking girls with a bikini top unless they're brandishing a broken bottle as a weapon or something!

Bond has evolved over the years, while staying true to his origins. In Skyfall, he's actually at his most mature ... and his most badass.

Skyfall
Rated PG-13 · 143 minutes · 2012
Official Site: www.skyfall-movie.com/site
Director: Sam Mendes
Producer: Michael Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Callum McDougal
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Helen McCrory, Nicholas Woodeson, Bill Buckhurst and Elize du Toit
Skyfall: The IMAX Experience
Rated PG-13 · 143 minutes · 2012
Official Site: www.skyfall-movie.com/site
Director: Sam Mendes
Producer: Michael Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Callum McDougal
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Helen McCrory, Nicholas Woodeson, Bill Buckhurst and Elize du Toit

Trailer


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What others are saying (17)

NUVO Movie reviews: The Sessions, Skyfall The Sessions is unflinching, moving and often funny, and Skyfall is one of the year's best movies, period. Plus: the Indy LGBT Film Fest and Claire Denis at IU Cinema. by Ed Johnson-Ott 11/09/2012
Boise Weekly Nobody Does It Better Mission accomplished in Skyfall by George Prentice 11/07/2012
Creative Loafing Atlanta James Bond gets better with age Skyfall's cloak-and-dagger thrills raise the series' emotional stakes by Curt Holman 11/07/2012
14 more reviews...
SF Weekly "Skyfall": Laying Bare the Unknowable Spy by Karina Longworth 11/07/2012
The Coast Halifax Skyfall Duck hunt by Jacob Boon 11/08/2012
Colorado Springs Independent License renewed: Skyfall A secret agent with a soul can be just as exciting as an exploding pen. by Scott Renshaw 11/07/2012
Memphis Flyer Soldier Spy The fantastic Skyfall aims at the heart of the James Bond mythos. by Greg Akers 11/08/2012
Chicago Reader In Rotation: Vocalo's Jesse Menendez on the Internet Radio Fairness Act Current musical obsessions of Vocalo's Jesse Menendez and Richard Giraldi of Loud Loop Press by Leor Galil 12/27/2012
Portland Mercury Secret Agent Man Skyfall: Like diamonds, James Bond is forever. by Ned Lannamann 11/07/2012
Creative Loafing Charlotte Skyfall: The spy who loved us Rating: ***1/2 by Matt Brunson 11/09/2012
Creative Loafing Charlotte Taking stock of Bond: Ranking the 007 flicks From Dr. No to Skyfall by Matt Brunson 02/14/2013
LA Weekly Skyfall Review: James Bond Now Has a Superhero-Style Origin Story If Hollywood's rut du jour is the origin story as bid for franchise immortality, you can't say that Skyfall — the 23rd "official" James Bond film in 50 years — isn't on trend. Eight years ago in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig's first outing as Bond, we learned that 007 owes... by Karina Longworth 11/08/2012
Chicago Reader 007 hits the big 5-0 In Skyfall, James Bond ponders the future and the past by J.R. Jones 11/06/2012
Seven Days Quantum of Solace Movie Review by Rick Kisonak 11/19/2008
Charleston City Paper Skyfall makes the case for the continued relevance of James Bond The fallout from the pre-credits mission — with Bond (Daniel Craig) chasing a killer through Istanbul to recover a stolen hard drive with information about undercover agents — has M (Judi Dench) and others in British intelligence wondering if it's time for 007 to hang up his Walther PPK and get out of this "young man's game." by Scott Renshaw 11/07/2012
Chicago Reader The bi who loved me James Bond in Skyfall: man's man, ladies' man, or a little of both? by J.R. Jones 11/14/2012
Gambit Review: Skyfall Ken Korman says director Sam Mendes has reinvigorated the James Bond formula for the 21st century by Ken Korman 11/06/2012

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