LAKE OCONEE — "Skyfall"
Rated PG-13 (for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking).
Skyfall is the 23rd Bond film and yet it still remains crisp and spry. The same thing can’t be said of Mr. Bond. He is beginning to show signs of age; getting a little slow and creaky. Perhaps this may be due to the aging demographic of Bond-age fans and this helps create a bond with Bond?
The film seems determined to be respectful of Bondian traditions, while showing some Bondian originality. After all, one goes to a Bond film to see exotic locations, furious action, absurd predicaments, campy cinematic trickery, the Bond girls, and perhaps most importantly the Boris and Natasha villains.
The film opens with Bond and his fellow field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) who are chasing a bad guy in sunny Istanbul who has stolen a list of undercover agents. We discover that “M” (Judi Dench) and a team from MI6 listen in and receive real-time reports. We get a special treat watching Bond crunch a half dozen VW Beetles but it all comes down to Bond and bad guy smacking each other atop a moving train and in the rifle scope of Eve. Bond and bad guy are at a draw and time is running out and so “M” calls the shot---literally---and Eve takes it---but hits Bond. Twenty minutes into the film, Bond is dead.
Of course, he isn’t. Nay, he just is bumping and grinding with a native girl and shooting shots with scorpions on some island pretending to be dead…until Wolf Blitzer of CNN tells him that the MI6 HQ has had a massive gas explosion almost killing “M.” Britannia needs him and so Bond returns. “M” is not amused that he took his time and didn’t even care to drop her a postcard. "M" is peeved and one tries ever so much not to peeve Mum.
Back in London he may be, but first he has to be “reconditioned” for field work…and he is beginning to turn gray and brittle and more than a little bit rusty. You know, of course, this matters not and back he goes classically tailored and strikingly poised and posed to sail into the most exotic locations in which to die. Of course, he doesn’t; he kills bad guys and seduces the breathlessly beautiful.
His mission is to track down a rogue agent named Silva (Javier Bardem) who is exposing MI6 agents. Now, allow me to pause and advise you that Mr. Bardem’s evil character is about as good as it gets. His bleached hair makes him look absurd (perhaps not as buffoonish as Donald Trump’s profoundly clownish hair---be it sprayed-on, toupeed, or poofed, dyed, and moussed---but darn near it)---and he minces about---at one point stroking Bond’s thighs trying to seduce him in more than one way but primarily to help him kill “M.” Mr. Bardem’s character has some very serious mommy issues. This is the type of acting that demands overacting---to be enjoyed. And Mr. Bardem delivers. He takes his art seriously…but isn’t afraid of using huge canvasses and bold brush strokes---to entertain clear back to the nosebleed section---to glom one analogy to another.
Judi Dench is getting up in years (she is 77) and perhaps it is time for her to pass the torch and Skyfall accomplishes that with class and dignity. Bond’s devotion to her shows---in fact he takes her to Skyfall to take one last stand against the unrelenting attacks of Silva and his mercenaries. There, Bond is joined by Albert Finney who plays a Scot that would stir the souls of Andrew Carnegie and Robert the Bruce.
Bond films are for entertaining and Skyfall comes very close to being top of the list, not granting any points to the classic ones for vintage. It takes advantage of the aging Bond and fluffs the backstory while setting up for future Bond films. It has been fifty years since Bond got splashed on the big screen and plans are being made to go on and on and on. Long Rule Britannia; Long live James Bond.
Skyfall earns four and a half bow ties out of five. Remember, it is just an action flick, it isn’t Casablanca.