My number 16 film of the year features the return of a famous big screen action hero.
Yes, 007 is back.
Life is the key word because MI6 presumes Bond died, but this famous superspy is very much alive and ready to help his boss, M (Judi Dench), hunt down a dangerous individual who knows the identity of British secret agents imbedded in terrorist organizations.
Soon M and Bond discover Silva (Javier Bardem) is the man behind the maelstrom, and he sets his sights of revenge on M specifically.
Casting Bardem - an Oscar winner - as Bond’s chief adversary is truly a master stroke.
Although Silva performs truly evil deeds, it’s quite fun watching Bardem work.
With a bleach-blond tuft, the occasional smile or sarcastic exchange, Bardem clearly seems to relish his devilish role.
The story doesn’t focus on grandiose "take over the world" plans, but rather a singular mission of revenge, and director Sam Mendes successfully balances both the intricate conflicts and the high octane visuals of this famous series.
Mendes - not particularly known for action films, (but he does have “Road to Perdition” (2002) on his impressive resume) - truly embraces the spirit of the Bond movies, while also adding his signatures.
While spectacular action sequences dance across the screen, Mendes thoughtfully stops to capture several moments of jaw-dropping background shots we don’t normally witness in a Bond picture.
At one point, a fight breaks out beneath an icy lake, and Mendes captures a artful wide shot of this blueish/grayish water world while one of the pugilists (I won't say which one) sends a fiery flair towards the surface.
Sure, explosions and fight scenes in exotic locations are certainly typical, but I found myself marveling at specific nuances at those specific locales.
At times, “Skyfall” is a beautiful film to watch while murder, mayhem and martinis make their mark, and Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw (who plays a new entertaining "Q"), and Albert Finney offer solid supporting performances.
Yes, it’s great to have James Bond back, and again, Craig takes the camp out of Bond and brings a macho and dangerous air to the character.
He’s (almost) always all business.
And business is booming.
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