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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
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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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Bond On Set: Filming Skyfall
 
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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Skyfall
Empire Star Rating

RE: Skyfall

L: Cool Breeze Finally got around to seeing this.. st a more indepth review later but suffice to say i thought this film was AWFUL 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. am stunned. ... More

Posted by Scruffybobby at 16:07, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

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? ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 15:15, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

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. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 15:09, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Prophet_of_Doom Box office is a pretty weak determinent of quality though (not that I'm arguing the quality of Skyfall, purely suggesting that some of the evidence be inadmissible!) when you consider the box office of films like Phantom Menace, POTC4, Indie 4, Transformers 2, Titanic, Shrek Forever After etc etc. I don't think putting Skyfall in the same category does it any favours. t's very different for Bond, not least because its BRITISH! The target audience for a Bond movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 14:59, 25 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Box office is a pretty weak determinent of quality though (not that I'm arguing the quality of Skyfall, purely suggesting that some of the evidence be inadmissible!) when you consider the box office of films like Phantom Menace, POTC4, Indie 4, Transformers 2, Titanic, Shrek Forever After etc etc. I don't think putting Skyfall in the same category does it any favours. ... More

Posted by Prophet_of_Doom at 20:42, 24 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Not bad for "the worst Bond film EVER!" ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 20:03, 24 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Private Hudson L: JohnChard To me it's quite simple. This is a new era of James Bond, those still thinking that the days of Sean and Roger will return are merely kidding themselves, it's never going to happen, the world has changed too much. The best these people will get is the referencing and nods to the past that Skyfall does so wonderfully well. It doesn't matter how much of a Bond fan you think you are, an expert on what is good for Bond, best Bonds etc etc, fact is,... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 19:11, 23 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: JohnChard To me it's quite simple. This is a new era of James Bond, those still thinking that the days of Sean and Roger will return are merely kidding themselves, it's never going to happen, the world has changed too much. The best these people will get is the referencing and nods to the past that Skyfall does so wonderfully well. It doesn't matter how much of a Bond fan you think you are, an expert on what is good for Bond, best Bonds etc etc, fact is, move and buy into this ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 16:25, 23 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: chris kilby Just as long as you don't get up the next morning only to discover that some fecker's covered it in gold paint... MFAO ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 00:17, 23 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Just as long as you don't get up the next morning only to discover that some fecker's covered it in gold paint... ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 23:57, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: chris kilby Or a DVD boxset. It's not like there aren't plenty of Bond films starring Daniel Craig. I've got twenty of 'em right here. e too, Chris, they come packaged in a nice shiny box set as well that I like to stroke occasionally... :-) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 23:37, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Mr Gittes L: chris kilby L: Mr Gittes To return to the topic of movie influences, I'm not sure if you've already listened to Mendes' commentary track on the movie, but apparently one of the many influences on some of the camerawork (particularly the longer shots) was Chinatown. Woo-hoo! I also loved the scene where Bond is off the grid and is at the bar in the very early morning; it reminded me of when Popeye Doyle wakes up in the bar in The French Connection. I know ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 23:20, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: One of the best Bond movies ever made

L: JohnChard Great to see some sensible adult posts forming here. o you think it'll catch on? ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 23:18, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: JohnChard To me it's quite simple. This is a new era of James Bond, those still thinking that the days of Sean and Roger will return are merely kidding themselves, it's never going to happen, the world has changed too much. The best these people will get is the referencing and nods to the past that Skyfall does so wonderfully well. It doesn't matter how much of a Bond fan you think you are, an expert on what is good for Bond, best Bonds etc etc, fact is, move and buy into this ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 23:11, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

To me it's quite simple. This is a new era of James Bond, those still thinking that the days of Sean and Roger will return are merely kidding themselves, it's never going to happen, the world has changed too much. The best these people will get is the referencing and nods to the past that Skyfall does so wonderfully well. It doesn't matter how much of a Bond fan you think you are, an expert on what is good for Bond, best Bonds etc etc, fact is, move and buy into this new era of Bond or sto... More

Empire User Rating

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


RE: One of the best Bond movies ever made

Thought it was great up until they got off the island, from then on the rest of the film was seriously underwhelming and the climax was weak. Very pretty though. ... More

Posted by gunstar at 22:22, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: One of the best Bond movies ever made

L: AxlReznor (instead of him finding their secret hide-out and having an epic showdown, he retreats to t, and has a far smaller scale showdown). es, totally agree, as I put in my own review, all turf in Bond movies tends to be his turf, but this time it really was HIS turf, and he kicked arse whilst also exorcising some demons of the past. Great to see some sensible adult posts forming here. ... More

Posted by JohnChard at 22:09, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: chris kilby L: Mr Gittes To return to the topic of movie influences, I'm not sure if you've already listened to Mendes' commentary track on the movie, but apparently one of the many influences on some of the camerawork (particularly the longer shots) was Chinatown. Woo-hoo! I also loved the scene where Bond is off the grid and is at the bar in the very early morning; it reminded me of when Popeye Doyle wakes up in the bar in The French Connection. I know it was done even befor... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 19:10, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: Mr Gittes To return to the topic of movie influences, I'm not sure if you've already listened to Mendes' commentary track on the movie, but apparently one of the many influences on some of the camerawork (particularly the longer shots) was Chinatown. Woo-hoo! I also loved the scene where Bond is off the grid and is at the bar in the very early morning; it reminded me of when Popeye Doyle wakes up in the bar in The French Connection. I know it was done even before then, but Popeye being... More

Posted by chris kilby at 12:13, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

To return to the topic of movie influences, I'm not sure if you've already listened to Mendes' commentary track on the movie, but apparently one of the many influences on some of the camerawork (particularly the longer shots) was Chinatown. Woo-hoo! I also loved the scene where Bond is off the grid and is at the bar in the very early morning; it reminded me of when Popeye Doyle wakes up in the bar in The French Connection. I know it was done even before then, but Popeye being my favourite male ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 11:32, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Brilliant

To answer, why so serious, they don't call him Daniel 'Chuckles' Craig do they? Unlike other Bonds like YOLT, SF demands to be taken seriously. Anyway, YOLT I saw as a kid so I give it some leeway. It doesn't ask you agonise on behalf of the hero's inner pain. I want a Craig film to be as credible as, oh, something like The Wild Geese. Craig is a Burton type star in my book. You may as well say, well, why not have the inmates burst into song in The Great Escape. After all, The So... More

Posted by Professor Dent at 11:30, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: One of the best Bond movies ever made

L: chris kilby Really? From ] height? Without a wire or a fast descender or something? What was his name - Iron Baws McGinty? :D] ... More

Posted by Porrohman at 11:15, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: jobloffski I have no problem with the supposed dark knight parallel of Silva needing to be caught for his plan to work with presumed chance to escape being part of the plan. Why? Becausem after film Bond has operated the exact same planup a storm until the person you are after sends people after you. Get captured in order to get to the heart of the operation you are infiltrating. Escape and cause chaosto end whatever it is the target isseeking to achieve. Silva was clearly be... More

Posted by chris kilby at 11:07, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

I don't want to sound like a totally tiresome tit (too late!) but one of Charlie Brooker’s smug guests last night smirkingly suggested that by extension, the Bond series generally) has no subtext or hidden meanings. This is patently absurd. What was that parliamentary enquiry set piece (!) which openly challenged Bond’s continued relevance in the modern world as a spy, a character as a franchise if not tly metatextual? In the middle of a lm!?! middle of a gunfight even? Indeed, Craig’s fi... More

Posted by chris kilby at 11:05, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

I have no problem with the supposed dark knight parallel of Silva needing to be caught for his plan to work with presumed chance to escape being part of the plan. Why? Becausem after film Bond has operated the exact same planup a storm until the person you are after sends people after you. Get captured in order to get to the heart of the operation you are infiltrating. Escape and cause chaosto end whatever it is the target isseeking to achieve. Silva was clearly being 'bond in reverse' a... More

Posted by jobloffski at 01:23, 22 February 2013 | Report This Post


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