Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 14, 2012

Skyfall showcases ‘serious’ Bond

Andy Stuckey, Ryan Maddux
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The twenty-third installment of the James Bond franchise burst into theaters over the weekend.

Skyfall once again stars Daniel Craig as 007 and this time he matches wits with a rogue agent (Javier Bardem) bent on revenge against M (Judi Dench).

Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Berenice Marlohe costar in the movie. Sam Mendes (American Beauty and Road to Perdition) directs.

Ryan: Believe the buzz. Skyfall completes the objective started in Casino Royale and unequivocally cements James Bond’s status as a 21st century phenomenon as well. Now I wouldn’t say that this is the best Bond movie of all-time (or even Craig’s best as it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the aforementioned Casino Royale) but it’s a very strong effort that gets the franchise back on track. And more importantly Skyfall translates Bond for a modern world and thus a modern audience.

Andy: Skyfall is a solid and serious Bond flick. Director Sam Mendes seems to have made a conscious choice to avoid the gimmicky gadgets and middle school puns in favor of a thoughtful, plot-based action movie. This could have backfired, turning Bond into a pretentious Jason Bourne knock-off. Instead, it makes Bond seem like a real person without sacrificing any of the cool or action that we have come to expect from a good 007 picture.

Ryan: Mendes is on record saying that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy provided much inspiration for Skyfall (although some might argue that the similarities are a little more than merely inspirational). The way I interpret it is that Mendes crafted a visceral action movie that carries more weight and substance than most typical blockbusters. Following the blueprint of Casino Royale, Mendes’s Skyfall also deconstructs the mythology of James Bond while also simultaneously reassembling those familiar archetypes that resonate with the characters. I give Mendes a lot of credit for making a Bond movie that doesn’t always feel like a Bond movie (and I don’t think that is a bad thing).

Andy: Daniel Craig’s performance in the superb Casino Royale ensured that he would always hold a special place in James Bond mythology, but Skyfall securely puts him in the top-tier of actors who have had the privilege of playing the secret agent. Craig is able to hold the movie together with his cool, allowing the strong supporting cast to do all of the showboat acting.  Playing an action star is one of the more underrated acting skills in Hollywood, and Craig is one of the best. His age is a factor, but it is one that the film addresses in a way that, as Ryan alluded to earlier, helps bring Bond securely into the 21st century.

Ryan: Skyfall is an energetic movie, but it almost implodes upon itself at the end. Some might argue that the climax is slightly anti-climactic and that the conclusion of the film leaves some things unresolved. But even with that said, Skyfall is a richly textured movie that is arguably the best shot Bond film of all time. Kudos to cinematographer Roger Deakins for helping to produce those scenes and thus adding a layer of cinematic sophistication to the world of 007.

Andy: Of all of the interesting and effective shots in the movie, none are more powerful than the introduction of Javier Bardem’s Silva. In a single long shot, Bardem walks slowly toward the camera, telling a mesmerizingly creepy story. As he gets closer and closer to the camera, he comes into focus. The shot probably takes 30 seconds, and from that point on Bardem dominates his time on screen. Bardem has a knack for playing effective villains, and his turn here further enforces that prestige.

Skyfall successfully combines a skilled director, a strong cast, and a solid step forward for the Bond franchise.  Final grade: B+.