Scotland is no country for old men!
Swift shot: It’s been fifty years since we were introduced to the screen version of Ian Fleming’s 007. Skyfall marks the latest, arguably, greatest of the franchise. I grew up with the debonair Bond, Roger Moore. There have been so many iterations of the character, and granted, it’s been 50 years, and I wouldn’t expect, nor want to see Moore as Bond now. No offense Roger, we’ll always have Octopussy. But the semi-centennial honors go to Daniel Craig. He brings a living pulse to Bond, you feel every scene with all your senses, you can’t escape his reality, his pain.
Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Jarhead) begins Skyfall as all the great Bonds of yesteryear, it opens with a dramatic, over the top, chase. On rooftops, on motorcycles, on trains, through crowded streets in Turkey, Bond and his not-so-skilled, behind the wheel, accomplice, Eve (Naomie Harris) are pursuing an enemy that somehow managed to steal the NATO covert agent list. [Being a former NATO intel guy myself, that brought things home a bit, granted I was overt, with a capital O]. But you get the concept that letting the identities of these agents slip is dire, and M (Judi Dench) can’t afford to lose the list. She has to make the hard call. She does, and this sets things into motion.
Things go from bad to worse as MI6 is directly assaulted, again under M’s watch leading her to a resounding “No” from the Prime Minister. Essentially told to gracefully resign in two months by a straight-jawed civilian, Garreth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the clock begins ticking for her to find out which of her sins is finally catching up with her. Being M means that list is probably as long as the covert agent list itself.
She recruits a ghost agent to help her at least not leave her beloved command in a buggery of shambles before she turns it over. It’s a ghost she relies on, resurrected, that must help her drown a rat from her past, only this is a rat she betrayed for the greater good. Thing is, all that “for England” shit is all well and good until it is your ass dealing with her betrayal. Sometimes mother doesn’t always know best.
With the demise of the old Quartermaster, or Q, MI6 introduces some youthful exuberance, or is that hubris, in the new Q (Ben Whishaw). He’s not my favorite actor, but he turned in a believable, albeit, feeble Q. As I’ve been sworn to ‘code-word’ secrecy not to spoil anything, I hope I can reveal the rat from M’s past is Mr. Silva (Javier Bardem). A few of his scenes are over the top and teetering on the edge of Shatner-esque acting, but he tethers his performance in credibility so it works. But, it’s a cut-throat razor’s edge to be sure. Some people were laughing at his performance, and I couldn’t fault them. He’s one of those actors that deliver pure terror in your mind and you still find him oddly fascinating and quirky. His blond hair though, has to go, it does grudgingly serve to show his vanity.
Speaking of vanity, you’ll be “in your bunk” over the sultry femme fatale Severine (Berenice Marlohe) who plays the crucial role in putting all the pieces together that lead to the final scene.
And just what the hell is Skyfall? I feel like that may be the biggest spoiler of all, but let’s just say its an origin to everything. In fact when I first heard Adele’s song on the radio I said out loud . . . these lyrics suck. But if you watch them in the context of the film they make perfect sense and even reveal a lot about the story.
As this is the fifty year anniversary to the 007 debut, there are countless nods, allusions, and straight out word-for-word dialogs of past films. It was a really nice touch for the loyal fans in the audience. And it gave me a chance to reflect on some of the excellent films of the past, as well as the bombs, and it had me wondering . . . my kid is four now, which Bond will he consider the “real” 007? I’m excited to find out, and I’m excited for you as well, because you are going to love this film! See it in theaters to get the adrenaline really kicking. Incredible action sequences, sexy seduction (sadly sans nudity), and more explosions and mayhem than I could fathom demands this be on your Bond must-see list for all time! That’s why I gave it my coveted six-stars!
[Swift aside - speaking of my son, I sacrificed an interview with the following to take him to the Magic Kingdom for trick-or-treating: Daniel Craig; Javier Bardem; Naomie Harris; Berenice Marlohe; Barbara Broccoli. If he complains about ANYTHING, I will remind him of that fact, of that you can be sure. But, again, our buddy Kai did manage to show up, so check out his interviews, here].