Skyfall, the latest 007 opus, is getting raves. “It’s the greatest Bond movie ever!” I heard someone exclaim. After catching it the other night, I beg to differ. I’d rank it somewhere in the middle, not in the same league as Thunderball (still the biggest grossing Bond film when inflation is taken into account, as it rarely is) or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but several flights of stairs above The Man With the Golden Gun. Nonetheless, it is a terrific entry in the now 50-year-old film series (you won’t hear the word “franchise” from me). I can’t claim to be objective though. No matter how good, or how technologically advanced, no Bond film after 1971 is going to compare in my mind with those first seven films, six starring Sean Connery and one with George Lazenby. That was Bond’s cinematic heyday.
Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third go-round as Ian Fleming’s secret agent, and it sure has it over the disappointing Quantum of Solace. The story has the identifies of MI6 agents being revealed when a computer file goes missing, but what does it matter? There are several spectacular action scenes, and a nail-biting moment when Bond, on the trail of an enemy, clings to the bottom of an elevator that rises high above Shanghai. The film’s climax takes place in Bond’s rustic childhood home (the “Skyfall” of the title) where he and M have an almost Western-style showdown with the bad guys led by chief villain Javier Bardem. The Spanish actor goes blonde for his Bond baddie (as Robert Shaw did in From Russia With Love and Christopher Walken did in A View to a Kill), and plays it kind of fey. He makes for a very formidable foe.
Skyfall has one of the most high profile casts to ever appear in a Bond film. In addition to Judi Dench returning as M, and Oscar winner Bardem, there’s Ralph Fiennes who we’ll obviously be seeing again, and Albert Finney, burly and bearded, as the man who raised Bond as a child. The music score by Thomas Newman includes occasional snatches of “The James Bond Theme,” and the legendary gun-barrel opening, missing from recent films, is tacked on at the end. A good show all around.
© 2012 Brian W. Fairbanks
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