PG-13 | 143 mins | Action, Adventure | October 31, 2012 (Philippines)
Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, and Ralph Fiennes
Agent 007 is definitely back, and the cool factor is higher than ever.
Skyfall starts with Bond’s end. At the beginning of the film, we are treated to an action sequence -- James Bond (Daniel Craig) in pursuit of a crook who has stolen the precious hard drive of M's computer containing a list of all undercover MI-6 agents positioned in terrorist organizations. But the mission goes wrong when the head bitch in charge, M (Judi Dench), instructs young agent Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) to fire her sniper rifle, even with James in the way. Agent 007 gets shot instead of the thief and presumed dead. Fast forward 3 months and M is now pushed into early retirement for the stolen hard drive and the (wrong) decisions she's made over the last year. But courtesy of the return of now-out-of-shape Bond, M gets a second chance to redeem herself.
This 23rd James Bond movie, more than an homage, is in itself an assessment on the 50 year old franchise. It taps into whether our world still needs undercover agents from super-intelligence organizations (like the MI-6) on the ground when everything can be easily supervised online. The franchise afterall stemmed from the Cold War and the espionage that was so widespread at the time. It is this theme of irrelevance and outdated-ness that overwhelms Skyfall. Even the new geeky Q/ Quartermaster (Ben Whishaw) suggests that he can do more in his pajamas, and his computers, in a week than Bond can do in a year. To further prove that point, the film's brilliantly menacing villain, Silva (Javier Bardem, with blonde hair!), challenges the idea behind and the need for the primitive MI-6. He shakes the MI-6 and is out to make M realize, with his clever methods comparable to Christopher Nolan's The Joker, that her ways and means are obsolete.
Great story. Impressive action. Stunning visuals. From the tense three-way chase through grey London to the climactic and blazing finale in the damp Scottish highlands, Skyfall is simply gorgeous and exciting as hell. Emotional depth and all, the acting is excellent collectively. Craig splendidly channels the humanized version of the aged secret agent with all that charm and grit and handsome griminess; Dench's indelible performance as M could easily win her an Oscar; Bardem's portrayal totally makes his flamboyant and mad cyberterrorist character by far the best Bond villain; and Ralph Fiennes who plays Mallory will keep you guessing whose side he is on until towards the end of the film. I also love Daniel Kleinman’s work. His title sequence, with Adele's throaty vocals, is so surreal. And Thomas Newman’s musical score gets an A+ from me, his best to date.
Sam Mendes' two-and-a-half-hour Skyfall is one of the best films of 2012 and the best James Bond film of the franchise. Highly recommended, Bond fan or not.
Lesson to the next M: do not, I repeat, DO NOT keep a single file with the name of every agent in the MI6 on a hard drive sitting idly in your office.