Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 09 November 2012
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Skyfall | Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Ben Whishaw | Review
From the visually resplendent opening credits including the titular song crooned by Adele - wait – those actually are not the first images you’ll encounter. Let’s start again. From the pulse-pounding opening chase scene that involves cars, motorcycles, a construction crane and a train hurtling through Istanbul, the Teflon-like Bond (Daniel Craig) bounces, pursues, flees, falls, and flies through the air and under the water in sequences that include an elevator shaft, Komodo Dragons, London Underground tunnels, and an ice-capped lake.
Is the blond James Bond, showing his age and slipping in necessary covert skills, ready for retirement? Is M (Dame Judi Dench) on the verge of resignation because of a gaffe that threatens all embedded agents to exposure and execution? What’s going on over at MI6, both before and after a bomb goes off?
The new guard, in the form of Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) wants the outdated, aging duo and their old-school methods to cease operations, but allows them one last chance to apprehend former agent Silva (Javier Bardem) who has the list of embedded operatives and is making it public at the rate of five each week. Silva’s after M for a past betrayal, and Bond must protect his beleaguered superior and the entire agency from the sinister, smiling, frighteningly ferocious tech genius.
These are simply a little background to explain the slick, savvy action sequences that fuel Skyfall, along with love interests, well, sex interests anyway, Eve (Naomie Harris) a fellow MI6 agent, and Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) a glamorous contact.
Daniel Craig’s third foray into 007 territory as the rough-hewn, suave, gadget-equipped agent meeting an embryonic Q (Ben Whishaw) makes him face the unsettling fact that he may be past his prime, but maybe not. Maybe it’s just a transfusion that’s in order, and the end of the film seems poised for just such an event.
Javier Bardem is disarmingly blond here, creating an odd, creepy, other-worldly aspect to his grinning, vicious Silva. Judi Dench is a key player but is perhaps given too much screen time, losing some mystery along the way.
Ralph Fiennes, stuck in the role of bureaucrat/obstacle at first, transforms into someone we’ll likely see more of as the franchise continues. Albert Finney has a tiny role at the end of the film, notable only for how well he looks in a beard, and the explanation of the film’s title.
Director Sam Mendes focuses on the essence of the man, giving us more of Bond’s background, motivations and yikes! emotions than previous iterations have allowed. Mendes admits that Bond was a boyhood hero of his, ensuring an iconic, reverential handling of the material. 007 accepts a shaken martini and utters the famous line that sandwiches the James between two Bonds. The score inserts familiar notes from the 50 year old theme at crucial junctures and the Aston Martin DB5 makes an appearance, usually to spontaneous audience applause.
The success of Skyfall is that it keeps us invested in a stoic, melancholy agent from a vanished era, who operates “in the shadows” and has learned to ignore pain and waltz with death more than with his many intimates. Maybe it’s because he takes the time to straighten his cufflinks after falling, seemingly from the sky, into a disintegrating train.
He is, after all, “Bond. James Bond.”