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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: Skyfall

Old Dog. New Tricks.

By Chris Sabga

Release Date: November 9, 2012 – U.S.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action, Adventure, Spy Thriller
Running Time: 143 minutes
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, 
John Logan, Ian Fleming (characters)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, 
Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, 
Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Albert Finney, 
Ben Whishaw

"Skyfall" is phenomenal in every possible way. It simultaneously acts as a love letter to the past 50 years of James Bond while masterfully catapulting the iconic spy franchise into the future. If "Bourne" took the crown as the king of this genre for a few years, make no mistake, 007 is now back on top. "Skyfall's" dazzling action sequences, stunning cinematography, impactful score, and tight script all come together to create an absolutely mesmerizing experience.

In a world that increasingly values the points and clicks of computerized espionage over good old-fashioned spy work done on the field and in the shadows, Bond (Daniel Craig) and M (Judi Dench) find themselves being phased out.

According to another agent, Q (Ben Whishaw), "I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field."

The head of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), even offers to allow M to "voluntarily" leave her position with dignity. "To hell with dignity," she fires back. "I'll leave when the job's done."

Q does concede that "every now and then, a trigger has to be pulled." That is the dilemma facing M at the beginning of the film. Bond is doing battle with an enemy who has stolen a drive containing the whereabouts of every agent working undercover. Their identities could be compromised if that information remains in the wrong hands. M orders one of her field operatives (Naomie Harris) to take a shot. But against two moving targets, there's no guarantee the bullet will end up where it's supposed to. If the possibility of losing Bond means protecting the other agents, that's a calculated risk M is perfectly willing to take for the greater good.

It's not the first time M has had to make such a difficult life-and-death decision about one of her agents. As attacks continue to mount, both in the real world and online, it quickly becomes apparent that someone inside the agency is responsible.

Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) used to be M's favorite. However, Silva's bad blonde hairstyle makes it immediately obvious that something is amiss. After all, the last time Bardem sported an ugly mop on his head, he portrayed one of the most compelling cinematic villains in recent memory – Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men." For the role of Silva, Bardem channels a completely different kind of psychotic intensity.

What makes Bardem's Silva character so compelling is that he and Bond are two sides of the same coin in many ways. Both men have faced similar situations throughout their careers. The difference is in how they each reacted. Those very decisions are what have shaped their personalities and defined the course of their lives.

The 007 series has been shaken by ups and downs, but "Skyfall" stirs it back to life. It's an incredible ride from beginning to end – and one of the best action movies in years. Just go see it!

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