Tough guy shows vulnerable side in latest Bond film, 'Skyfall'

November 13, 2012|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • This film image released by Sony Pictures shows Daniel Craig as James Bond in "Skyfall." Celebrating his 50th birthday, James Bond has been learning some new tricks, yet "Skyfall" references previous Bond films, such as the 1963 Aston Martin DB5 Bond drives in "Skyfall."
Associated Press photo

James Bond has never been more vulnerable than he is in “Skyfall”. The opening of the film sees 007 (Daniel Craig, in his third performance as the world’s favorite secret agent) accidentally shot by his amateur partner (Naomie Harris). Bond blames the incident on the overly hasty orders of his superior M (Judi Dench). He isn’t eager to go back to work for his careless boss, so he plays dead and takes a few months off.

Of course, he eventually gets pulled back into duty, but surprisingly, he fails basic tests required for reinstatement. M decides she needs him in the field right now, so she sends Bond on a dangerous mission to Shanghai without being cleared. And there, in typical Bond fashion, he gets captured and earns himself an audience with the villain.

After a gaggle of disappointing villains in recent Bond films, we finally get a real one in Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva is a cyber-terrorist who we assume is using his hard feelings toward M as a smoke screen for typical Bond villain aspirations: money, power, etc. It turns out that his plan begins and ends with revenge on M. It also turns out that he’s extremely kinky. When was the last time you saw a Bond villain with more sexual energy than 007 himself?

Most Bond films come to a head either at the villain’s lair or as the villain is invading an unsuspecting locale. This time, the bad guys attack Bond on his own turf. It’s weird to see Bond enjoy such an advantage and even weirder to see him delve however briefly into his past. These scenes also see the introduction of an old friend of Bond’s named Kincade (Albert Finney), a scene-stealer introduced far too late in the film.

“Skyfall” is the rare James Bond film defined by its performances. The action scenes are crisp but expected. We get a chase involving multiple modes of transportation, plenty of shooting and explosions, and henchmen fed to animals.

The most interesting thing about the film is following the story arcs of Bond and M, not just as agents, but as people. It reminds me of that memorable exchange between Bond and the villain in 1964’s “Goldfinger.” Bond could ask me if I really expect him to die. I would respond with “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to grow.” And so he does in “Skyfall.”

Three stars out of five.

“Skyfall” is rated PG-13 for intense, violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking. Its running time is 143 minutes.

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