When Bond's latest assignment goes gravely wrong and agents around the world are exposed, MI6 is attacked forcing M to relocate the agency. These events cause her authority and position to be challenged by Gareth Mallory, the new Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. With MI6 now compromised from both inside and out, M is left with one ally she can trust: Bond. 007 takes to the shadows - aided only by field agent, Eve - following a trail to the mysterious Silva, whose lethal and hidden motives have yet to reveal themselves.
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Double 0 Boring
The 007 franchise has a recipe that is pretty simple in ingredients but has still been able to keep audiences buying tickets for over 50 years. You have a super villain, a girl (sometimes two), some gadgetry paired up with a beautiful automobile, and top tier chase and fight scenes that are the best in the business. Aside from minor variations on this formula, it is one that has not changed in half a century.
For the most part, this has not been a bad thing. The James Bond series has spawned one of the best action films ever in Casino Royale and even the mediocre ones are enjoyable to watch. Most critics and fans alike will say that the Daniel Craig led phase of the Bond series is 1-2 with a grand slam in Casino Royale and a strike out with bases loaded in The Quantum of Solace (although I feel that is a little unfair on the latter). So now we have Skyfall at the plate and with Sam Mendes at the helm and Javier Bardem checking in as the bad guy, anticipation for a big score could be no higher.
MI6 is in chaos. After Bond is accidently shot by his colleague during a fight with a hitman, he is presumed dead when his body is not located. His boss, M (Judi Dench), is facing heavy scrutiny and being pressured to retire by British Intelligence Chairman Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). Shortly after an inquest into Bond’s demise, M receives a taunting email from an unknown sender and then the offices of MI6 explode, killing many workers. Bond, who is actually hiding out and gathering his wits, learns of the attack and returns to London. Since he has already been declared deceased, he must pass some psychological and physical tests, all of which he fails. Nevertheless, M inserts him back in the field to search after her tormentor. The usual Bond type globetrotting detective work ensues which leads him to Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 operative turned freelance cyber terrorist. Silva has a very large bone to pick with M, and through that MI6 as a whole.
Besides Craig, who could prove to supplant Sean Connery as the best Bond ever, Bardem is one the few good things Skyfall has going for it. This is no mere copy of Anton Chigurh, the hitman from No Country For Old Men for whose role earned Bardem an Oscar. Silva is one of the most layered Bond villains in decades and the story of him going bad fits well within the 007 universe. But there is some ridiculousness in his skill as a hacker, and it is one of the many problems with Skyfall’s plot.
The ongoing worry with Bond movies is directors must know when something is too over the top when crafting the action that is the backbone of the franchise. Do too much and risk jumping the shark. Do too little and audiences are underwhelmed. Mendes somehow manages both in the same film. Silva’s character’s issue is that he is too much of a genius, too clever for the sake of the story. We are expected to believe that he has no problem hacking into M’s personal email and computer with ease and later into MI6’s entire system. He masterminds an escape from custody that is so reliant on perfect timing that it is too much too swallow, even for a Bond movie. The essence of a great villain is that he is able to overcome adversity by outthinking the good guys. But here, the good guys are so inept that Silva’s feats neither impress nor seem possible.
The other big problem with Skyfall is the mediocrity of the chase and fight scenes. Mendes shoots a beautiful film, no doubt, and there is a fight between Bond and a baddie on top of a Shanghai skyscraper that is nothing short of gorgeous. But the rest of the action has an uninspired feel to it. There are no wow moments and one can’t help but feel like you have seen these shootouts many times before.
The relationship between M and Bond is given more story here than in any movie of the series that I can remember. I understand the reasoning but it is all done with such a heavy hand that it comes off as melodramatic. And that’s really the whole gist of what is wrong here. Mendes has attempted to make Skyfall the most character driven Bond movie ever but in the end I didn’t want to ride to where these characters were being driven to.
Review from the comment
Skyfall is the 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise and the third film where Daniel Craig stars as 007. In this one, Bond is involved in a plot that goes terribly wrong and ends up blowing MI6 agents covers all over the world. On top of that, MI6 is attacked, forcing M to relocate. It's no secret that Javier Bardem who plays Silva is the lead baddie in Skyfall and he again comes through in spades. Let's not get carried away though folks, it's not an Oscar worthy performance as some have speculated. There are some things to note in this film, including a look into Bond's past and of course the amazing locales. While there are a few moments of stupidity (one involving an animal that should have been left on the cutting room floor) and the usual lack of realism in Bond films that you have to accept, Skyfall is a welcome comeback from the very average Quantum of Solace. As a big Bond fan, I can't wait for the next one.