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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Daniel Craig
Javier Bardem
Judi Dench
Bérénice Marlohe
Naomie Harris
Ben Whishaw.
Directors
Sam Mendes.
Screenwriters
Running Time
143 minutes

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Skyfall
50 years old, still going strong...


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Plot
A hard-drive which lists all NATO operatives undercover in terrorist organisations is stolen, and used to make M – the head of British Intelligence – look bad. Though not in peak condition after a near-death experience, secret agent James Bond sets out to recover the drive, which leads him to mystery man Silva, who has a revenge scheme in mind.


Review
Skyfall
Browse more images »
The consensus on Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond so far is that he started out impressively in Casino Royale but wavered in Quantum of Solace. Here, in a Bond specifically tailored for the 50th anniversary of the series, the dangling plot-threads of Casino and Quantum are left in the wind as a more experienced, more damaged hero deals with a villain from his boss’s past. Having rebooted the franchise by depicting Bond’s first days with a license to kill in Casino Royale, this picks him up later in his career – as if he’s lived through all the films from Dr No to Die Another Day since we last saw him.

The pre-credits sequence, which coincidentally chases through a Turkish bazaar seen this year in Taken 2 and Argo, establishes that Sam Mendes – brought in to raise the tone a bit – can handle a fist-fight on top of a train as well as anyone. The boldest hire for this go-round is cinematographer Roger Deakins, who delivers the most impressive visuals this series has had since the 1960s. No one will ever mistake Skyfall for an introspective picture, though Bond’s rarely-mentioned dead parents get trotted out in a Christopher Nolanesque way which aligns him with all other orphan heroes and superheroes of current cinema.

The challenge of delivering a series entry is to present the mandatory elements – the credits sequence, the girls, the cars, the locations, the stunts, the villains, the novelty pets, the gadgets – in fresh, surprising ways. Regular screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, augmented by John Logan, skate over their mcguffin with some computerspeak and politicking, then hit all the required notes – with sidebar-friendly anniversary nods to practically every previous Bond film, including the David Niven Casino Royale – while telling a story that doesn’t strictly adhere to the umpteenth-remake-of-Dr-No format that wore thin during the Roger Moore-Pierce Brosnan eras. Among other innovations, this is the first Bond really to make use of spectacular British locations, in and out of London, as a plot hatched in exotic places comes home to burn down the Establishment.

Craig takes a fall into a surreal, macabre credits sequence accompanied by that Adele song, then spends a reel or so as an unshaven, washed-up wreck who can’t shoot straight and shows signs of psychological trauma. It’s a character stretch Craig manages better than Brosnan’s bout with beardiness in Die Another Day, mostly because he gets his chops back – and his chops shaven, in a sexy sequence with fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) – with credible effort. It’s a reading of the role that comes from the later Ian Fleming novels, the ones that had their titles used on films which otherwise threw away the material, and much of Skyfall feels like the kind of post-John Buchan/Bulldog Drummond thrillers Fleming wrote rather than the fantastical, science fictionish films which grew out of them.

Harris’s peppy MI6 sniper and Berenice Marlohe’s slinky woman of mystery have a few good scenes, but the main Bond girl here is Judi Dench – whose M is harried by bureaucrats and politicians who want her to retire, but has to stay in office to cope with her own nightmare legacy. Javier Bardem’s villain makes a grand entrance, walking from the back of the frame to the foreground while delivering a parable about rats in a barrel, then gets deeper under the hero’s skin than any official shrink, prodding him into reflections about his drink and pill dependency and sexual identity which would have made Sean Connery blench. Silva is a Flemingesque creation – a loathesome foreigner with a hidden (and gruesome) deformity – but Bardem adds in a little Hannibal Lecter vibe (especially in a sequence set under London) and even becomes a horror movie slasher for a surprisingly gothic, down-and-dirty climax.

Ralph Fiennes plays it ambiguously as M’s political rival, but gets some good scenes late in the day, and there’s a sharp reinvention of the role of Q from Ben Whishaw, who is now the spooks’ computer whizz (with a nice line in jargon) as well as quartermaster. And Albert Finney brings warmth and gravitas to a key role in the home stretch.


Verdict
Skyfall is pretty much all you could want from a 21st Century Bond: cool but not camp, respectful of tradition but up to the moment, serious in its thrills and relatively complex in its characters but with the sense of fun that hasn’t always been evident lately. One thing’s certain: James Bond will return…


Reviewed by Kim Newman


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Skyfall
Empire Star Rating

Bond Still Knows How To kick Butt.

A fun, exciting and powerful Bond... though it' no GoldenEye, it's still a worthy salute to Bond's 50th anniversary. Definitely a must see. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jericho117 at 07:42, 07 April 2014 | Report This Post


A solid Bond film

Craig is beginning to show his age, but this was a good movie. Fabulous introduction, weird villain, and some surprises . A fine title song. Almost as good as Casino Royale, but better than Quantum of Solace. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ctjbush at 22:03, 25 February 2014 | Report This Post


YEAH KEEP ATTACKING PIERCE :(

''a character stretch Craig manages better than Brosnan in Die Another Day'' anyone who saw Tailor Of Panama and The Matador can tell you pierce brosnan is an amazing actor (when he gets the right script) die another day was a cartoon if he had been given the chance to play a gritty realistic 007 pierce would have been just as good as if not better than Daniel is now ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bill the butcher at 22:49, 28 November 2013 | Report This Post


Skyfall

Excellent ( But still something missing, lets see how the next one is) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ruddick at 16:01, 17 April 2013 | Report This Post


Best Bond movie ever???? Maybe yes, maybe not.....but problably maybe yes!

50 years, 24 films (some classics, some fun, some horrible), and finally on his 50th birthday, James Bond deliver's, in what many say is his best movie of all time, and there is much to prove it. After the weak movie that was "Quantun of Solace", the 007 has been absent for 4 years, many thought it would last forever, but finally in 2012 thanks to Sam Mendes, James Bond had his respect long lost, back and big. "Skyfall" is the 007 movie we deserve, give us a true spectacle ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ralph25 at 22:45, 11 April 2013 | Report This Post


Not sure why all the complaining with this film. As a bond fan it has everything you could want action a decent bad guy a story which makes sense and is entertaining. Not many bond films get award nominated so there just be some thing right with the film. Shame there are so many bond haters that go on the name of the film rather than the material its self!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chrisharvey1551 at 10:27, 03 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

watch it again yesterday, still amazing. ... More

Posted by moviebuff73 at 22:19, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: JohnChard L: Mr Gittes Really? Home Alone? No mention of Straw Dogs? I mean, your opinion's your opinion and if you haven't seen it, then fine, but as I've said before, why the hell is Home Alone mentioned so much while there's a shockingly small amount who bring up Straw Dogs? I mean, if Skyfall is "ripping off" Home Alone (a comment that really made me laugh, by the way), then Home Alone is robbing Straw Dogs blind. As for The Dark Knight, the argument could easily ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 22:05, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Rgirvan44 I am not sure how attacking a Bond for being predictable works - by their very nature the Bond films are straightforward. Indeed one of the wish lists often trotted out when having a go at the Craig films is why they don't go back to the established formula. 'm not attacking Bond movies, I'm defending Mr Gittes post! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 21:55, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

I look forward to the day when a film showing a character defending their home with booby traps, gets referred to as "doing a Skyfall" obably never happen. ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 21:27, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Well said. It's just if I was to name a scene it reminded me of, it would be the Straw Dogs climax, and not just because of the guns; that was merely an example of how it was more similar to Skyfall than Home Alone. I guess it's mainly the setting that trumps Home Alone in the similarities. I'm not going to pretend that Home Alone is completely unrelated to it, of course. As you showed, there's nothing wrong with the casual reference. I think it's just because I love that sequence in Straw Dogs... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 21:27, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Anyone mentioned Patriot Games yet? Or the fact that James Bond essentially turns into Bruce Wayne? He even gets his own mansion estate and elderly 'Alfred'-a-like! There comes a point when so many references stop being interesting cinematic trivia and start to become a sign of, dare I say it, a somewhat derivative, if thoroughly enjoyable, movie. ... More

Posted by Jar Jar Gabor at 21:07, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Grosse Pointe Blank as well, to throw in another arbitrary reference. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 19:55, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

I didn't get the comments about that scene in the first place either, never saw a problem with it. But guns still don't make it Straw Dogs in any manner, shape or form. Lots of films with gunmen outside houses and rooms, so it'd be reaching going for one. I agree it's silly to use Home Alone as an insult to the film, and unfair - but the lethal light bulb trick as just a playful reference is fine. ... More

Posted by elab49 at 19:52, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Cool Breeze Easily the worst Bond film ever made. es, we all entitled to our opinions - some people are welcome to them. But you're just being silly now. (When are people online going to realise that they can't say things like "Worst. Film. EVER!" without a shred of irony without sounding hopelessly like Comic Book Guy from psons * cal. ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 19:48, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

I only bring it up because, unlike Home Alone, the Straw Dogs showdown involves, y'know, actual guns. There's just so many more similarities with the Skyfall showdown, that I can't help get a little irritated that Home Alone gets mentioned more just because the people who didn't like the movie want to make it seem more silly. And as for the other possible Straw Dogs reference you mentioned...didn't you see that shower scene? Hee-hee-hee. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 19:43, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: MonsterCat I don't know why anyone would watch a film they're pre-disposed to hating, but hey it's no skin off my teeth. Does it burn you that this is an Oscar winning, critically lauded Bond flick and it made a metric fuck-ton of cash? ou have to ask? ("Metric fuck-ton." I like that.) ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 19:43, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Straw Dogs is hardly the only siege/traps film around and unless there was S FOR STRAW DOGS="#ffffff"]a rape scene I missed seeing why that one would be particularly referenced. Home Alone is a fun reference because of M sitting around making nail bombs ... More

Posted by elab49 at 19:18, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

I am not sure how attacking a Bond for being predictable works - by their very nature the Bond films are straightforward. Indeed one of the wish lists often trotted out when having a go at the Craig films is why they don't go back to the established formula. ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 18:47, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Mr Gittes Really? Home Alone? No mention of Straw Dogs? I mean, your opinion's your opinion and if you haven't seen it, then fine, but as I've said before, why the hell is Home Alone mentioned so much while there's a shockingly small amount who bring up Straw Dogs? I mean, if Skyfall is "ripping off" Home Alone (a comment that really made me laugh, by the way), then Home Alone is robbing Straw Dogs blind. As for The Dark Knight, the argument could easily be made that it was ri... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 18:38, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Cool Breeze Finally got around to seeing this.. st a more indepth review laterffice to say i thought this film was AWFUL.Easily the worst Bond film ever made.Boring, predictable, a plot which rips off various other movies ( Mission Impossible, The Dark Knight, and of course, Home Alone! ).Besides the impressive opening sequence, there are really no decent action sequences. ... More

Posted by Vadersville at 16:58, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Cool Breeze Finally got around to seeing this.. Will post a more indepth review later but suffice to say i thought this film was AWFUL.Easily the worst Bond film ever made.Boring, predictable, a plot which rips off various other movies ( Mission Impossible, The Dark Knight, and of course, Home Alone! ).Besides the impressive opening sequence, there are really no decent action sequences. d you mind posting a comparison showing the things you liked about, say, oh I don't know, ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 16:38, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

If the 'review' is anything other than that fucking awful Honest Trailers written out point-by-point, I'll be astonished. ... More

Posted by matty_b at 16:33, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Cool Breeze Finally got around to seeing this.. Will post a more indepth review later but suffice to say i thought this film was AWFUL.Easily the worst Bond film ever made.Boring, predictable, a plot which rips off various other movies ( Mission Impossible, The Dark Knight, and of course, Home Alone! ).Besides the impressive opening sequence, there are really no decent action sequences. a-ha! Such pompous drivel. I don't care what you think of Bond (for you yourself are "bori... More

Posted by DancingClown at 16:27, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Really? Home Alone? No mention of Straw Dogs? I mean, your opinion's your opinion and if you haven't seen it, then fine, but as I've said before, why the hell is Home Alone mentioned so much while there's a shockingly small amount who bring up Straw Dogs? I mean, if Skyfall is "ripping off" Home Alone (a comment that really made me laugh, by the way), then Home Alone is robbing Straw Dogs blind. As for The Dark Knight, the argument could easily be made that it was ripping off Heat, with a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 16:11, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


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