Marred, But Exciting and Emotional
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench,
Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes,
Naomi Harris, Berenice
Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben
Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 143 minutes
Distributor: MGM/Columbia Pictures/Sony
Director: Sam Mendes
Executive Producer: Callum McDougall
Producer: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John
Address Comments To:Michael Lynton, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chairman
Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman
Jeff Blake, Vice Chairman
Sony Pictures Entertainment (Columbia Pictures/MGM/TriStar/Screen Gems/Affirm Films/Provident Films)
10202 West Washington Blvd.; Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000; Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/
SKYFALL begins in typical Bond fashion. Bond is trying to stop a man from getting away with a list of all the undercover NATO agents in terrorist groups around the world. A huge chase scene ensues. Bond doesn’t stop chasing the man, even when the man wounds him in the shoulder with a lucky shot. However, toward the end of the chase, Bond’s boss, M (played by Judi Dench), orders the female agent helping Bond to take a very risky shot as Bond fights the bad guy atop a speeding train. The female agent hits Bond instead, and 007 falls off the train and plunges into deep river waters below.
Angry that M ordered the girl to take such a risky shot, Bond goes into hiding in a dingy outskirt near a tropical beach, his favorite kind of vacation spot. Bond decides to return from the dead, however, when the mysterious head villain who now has the NATO list of agents infiltrates M’s office computers and blows up her headquarters while she watches in the streets below. The bomb kills eight or nine people. To add insult to injury, the villain sends a simple text message to M, “Think on your sins.” He also announces his plan to sell five names of the undercover agents each week until M resigns as head of MI6. M believes the villain has too much inside knowledge. She thinks he must be a disgruntled former employee or spy for the British.
Bond wants to return to duty and root out the vile villain, but he’s still suffering from his recent wounds. M forces Bond to take some physical tests. However, when he fails the tests, she still lets him return to duty and go after the villain with the rest of NATO’s list of undercover agents. Eventually, the villain is indeed revealed to be a former British agent, a man calling himself Silva. Not only that, but he used to work for M when she served in Honk Kong before England handed it over to the Red Chinese.
The fight between Bond, M, and Silver becomes more intense and personal. Is Bond up to the task of stopping this vicious, clever villain before he kills them both? Do chickens lay eggs?
The stakes in SKYFALL get higher and higher as the movie’s conflict becomes more personal in the second half. This story structure leads to what is probably the most emotionally powerful of all the Bond movies, at least since ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, where [spoiler] Bond’s new bride gets murdered at the end. It also makes SKYFALL one of the most compelling, thrilling and satisfying of the Bond flicks. In fact, many Bond fans and Bond experts probably will put SKYFALL in the top five of their lists of the best Bond movies of all time. There’s even a wonderful homage in SKYFALL to the GOLDFINGER movie and its introduction of the gadget-filled Astin Martin car.
This car is the most iconic and most beloved gadget in all the Bond flicks. Also, many long-time fans (and the best Bond experts) consider GOLDFINGER to be the best, or at least the most exciting and memorable, Bond movie. SKYFALL’s deft, delightful homage to the Astin Martin car and GOLDFINGER may actually bring tears to the eyes of long-time Bond fans. At least it did to the eyes of some of the long-time Bond fans attending the screening MOVIEGUIDE® attended. SKYFALL is that well done.
A great homage to a great Bond sequence of the past isn’t the only emotionally powerful impact of SKYFALL.
SKYFALL also increases the dramatic effect and depth of the complex relationship between Daniel Craig’s excellent portrayal of James Bond and Judi Dench’s marvelous take on M, Bond’s boss. Dench has been portraying M since 1995’s GOLDENEYE, and she takes that iconic role to the deepest, most satisfying level she possibly can here. The fact that, before Bond, SKYFALL’s villain (played by Javier Bardem in a creepy performance) used to be M’s favorite spy adds even more subtlety and power to this particular Bond episode.
It’s hard to deny that the ending of SKYFALL packs a strong emotional wallop. The script and direction are equally superb, especially in the second half. All this only adds to the movie’s impact on viewers. It also deepens the sympathy toward Bond as well as his complicated boss.
There are several other positive, noteworthy aspects to SKYFALL.
First, the movie is very patriotic. M’s actions in the movie’s first part put Bond’s loyalty to his country to the test. After all is said and done, however, when his country is seriously threatened, Bond’s patriotic duty returns and builds until the very end. As does his personal commitment and service to his boss, whose decisions often put his life at incredible risk, sometimes in ways that are also emotionally painful. These qualities alone show how good the script to SKYFALL, and the execution by the cast and crew, really is.
Even better than this, SKYFALL has some of the strongest, most powerful redemptive, and even Christian, elements you may find in any Bond movie. For example, there’s the movie’s reference to past sins. Also, when the villain asks Bond what his hobby is, Bond replies, “Resurrection.” Later in the movie, Bond and M find refuge in a “priest’s hole” in a British mansion. Many British castles and mansions have such ancient hiding places. These “priest’s holes” are where Catholic leaders hid during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when the queen retaliated against Catholic leaders for an assassination attempt and other schemes against her Protestant reign. Finally, a major scene occurs in a church. These references, and the movie’s strong patriotic elements, lend SKYFALL a strong moral worldview overall.
All that said, the sexual content in SKYFALL, and all the other Bond movies, as well as the Bond novels, remains the biggest, most problematic issue. For example, twice during the movie, it’s implied that Bond sleeps with two of the female characters. There’s also some flirting between Bond and female characters, as well as a couple passionate kisses, one in a shower and one in a bedroom. In another scene, the slightly effeminate villain taunts Bond with some homosexual innuendo. In that scene, the villain has Bond tied to a chair and starts lightly touching Bond’s neck as he proposes that Bond should team up with him against M. In response, Bond turns the villain’s taunts around with a joke of his own. SKYFALL also has some foul language and strong action violence with people getting shot dead and the like.
All in all, therefore, SKYFALL is one of the best, most well produced, superbly acted, most thrilling, best-scripted, and most compelling Bond movies in the last four decades or so. The movie’s production quality and dramatic impact are well worth the price of admission. Strong caution is advised, however, for the movie’s implied sexual immorality and the two passionate kisses. SKYFALL is not a movie for children or young teenagers. Most of the other potentially objectionable content is less annoying and less offensive (and less of a problem), other than a couple strong profanities.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie, DR. NO. It also marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of Spider-Man, the 100th anniversary of Tarzan, and the 125th anniversary of the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes. James Bond has become a significant part of the legacy of all these pop culture heroes, despite his vices. The positive qualities of SKYFALL are decidedly praiseworthy, even though its negative qualities are decidedly not.
SKYFALL is one of the most thrilling, most satisfying James Bond movies ever made. Daniel Craig and Judi Dench as Bond and his boss turn in their best Bond series performances so far. Surprisingly, SKYFALL is probably the most emotionally powerful of all the Bond flicks. Even more surprisingly, it turns out to have some strong Christian, redemptive content in it. SKYFALL also contains a very strong patriotic theme. All that said, strong caution is advised for some of SKYFALL’s other content, especially some sexual elements and foul language.