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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
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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
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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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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Skyfall
Empire Star Rating

RE: One of the best Bond movies ever made

I’ve been re-watching (and re-watching) Skyfall on bluray and it’s still great, standing up to repeat viewings remarkably well. Still not sure about the whole “Best Bond EVAH!” thing though. That still strikes me as a tad premature. Time will tell. But what’s not in doubt is the next Bond film really has its work cut out. So I hope EON take their time and don’t rush into anything if they want to avoid a(n inevitable?) backlash. But what really struck me on repeat viewings was just how many... More

Posted by chris kilby at 18:30, 20 February 2013 | Report This Post


One of the best Bond movies ever made

Daniel Craig shows once again that he is Ian Fleming's 007 through and through (although I still prefer the cinematic Bond of Connery, to those who were thinking of me as a pretentious twat), Sam Mendes proves to be an inspired choice for director, Javier Bardem is instantly one of the greatest Bond villains ever, not to mention the entire cast is sublime, and the script is wonderfully sharp. However, the real show stealer is Roger Deakins' stunning cinematography which was jaw-dropping on the b... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 14:59, 20 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

Maybe more about product placement, as i think films are rife with it. Those that saw the film, what did you think? can you help me out with my dissertation on product placement? cheeky 5 minute questionnaire here: http://www.surveyexpression.com/Survey.aspx?id=c5fda6f3 -5fb8-448a-8366-c5e250122b77 ... More

Posted by Jaykg06 at 20:21, 19 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: hugely disappointed

I know what you are saying. The recent films are ditching too much of what made it work over the last 50 years, however I suppose they did have to freshen things up, and after Skyfall we have all the traditional elements in place: M, Q & Moneypenny. So I think it is a bit like New Coke. People got fed up with Coca Cola and wanted something different. Pepsi were hard on their heels and ready to go number 1. When they brought out New Coke it was too much like Pepsi (who did go to number 1) a... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 19:18, 19 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Bond disappears up its own arse

I wasn't too impressed on the silver screen but after watching it on DVD tonight I actually enjoyed it a lot more. Here's to Bond 24. ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 00:07, 19 February 2013 | Report This Post


Bond disappears up its own arse

A crap villian with no henchman, Two crap gadgets, no real car chase and disposing of the bad guys with an awful McCaulay Culkin style finish- Kevin did it much better than Bond BTW. I think Bond has finally disappeared up its own arse and forgotten that above anything else it should be about fun! I want crazy gadgets, freaky henchmen and ridiculous car chases. Perhaps this was all necessary to clear the ground for some cool stuff in the next film, but i doubt it :-( PS introducing the F... More

Empire User Rating

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


Bond disappears up its own arse

A crap villian with no henchman, Two crap gadgets, no real car chase and disposing of the bad guys with an awful McCaulay Culkin style finish- Kevin did it much better than Bond BTW. I think Bond has finally disappeared up its own arse and forgotten that above anything else it should be about fun! I want crazy gadgets, freaky henchmen and ridiculous car chases. Perhaps this was all necessary to clear the ground for some cool stuff in the next film, but i doubt it :-( PS introducing the F... More

Empire User Rating

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


''JAW DROPPING ''

This is one of best bond movie with Daniel Craig , One of best Movie of 2012. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by soulfood at 17:20, 13 February 2013 | Report This Post


Now it makes sense

Just why did Bond leave the safety of an underground bunker and decide to take a vintage Aston Martin for a spin from London to Scotland with M In tow? The answer is simple. He wanted to kill 3 birds with one stone. Firstly, he wanted to sell the family home in Scotland, but an elderly squatter with a gun had taken residence and was proving hard to dislodge. Secondly, he wanted the insurance money from the DB5. And lastly, after years of being pestered and nagged constantly he wanted rid of his... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AJRtennis at 21:13, 12 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: MonsterCat L: AJRtennis Yet another brainless sheep gushing over this dismal film. le sigh. aaarrrrrrrrrrrrr ... More

Posted by ongbakdan at 17:47, 11 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: AJRtennis Yet another brainless sheep gushing over this dismal film. le sigh. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 21:21, 09 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: AJRtennis Unoriginal, dreary, lame shite! Typical Sam Mendes. If u wanna see a Judi Dench film go see Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. ion scenes are better! ther brainless sheep gushing over this dismal film. ://images.wikia.com/thehungergames/images/c/c2/Michael- What-the-office-10400786-400-226.gif ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 20:20, 09 February 2013 | Report This Post


Original, exciting, clever and stylish. A return to top class form for Bond with all the subtle nods any Bond fan would love. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 19:14, 08 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: The spy who bummed me

So the bad guy planned all that to escape, even the train arriving on time to crash through the hole left by the explosion. Better than Quantum, but like that train, totally went of the rails in the last hour 45 mins ... More

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


RE: The spy who bummed me

L: RLTShirley Daniel Craig is not hard and a boss eyed jug eared twat.  When he runs he looks like he has cerebal paulsy.  There are NO car chases.  At one point bond randomly starts fighting the rancour from jabas palace. This is never explained.  Most of the plot seems like it was worked out during filming.  The bad guy is a gay Spanish weirdo who's backstory makes no sense.  It is impossible to emotionally invest in any of the characters because they are all boring one d... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 22:48, 05 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Skyfall

L: RLTShirley When he runs he looks like he has cerebal paulsy.  nd they say wit is dead. Thread title reset. Seriously. ... More

Posted by rich at 22:29, 05 February 2013 | Report This Post


The spy who bummed me

Daniel Craig is not hard and a boss eyed jug eared twat.  When he runs he looks like he has cerebal paulsy.  There are NO car chases.  At one point bond randomly starts fighting the rancour from jabas palace. This is never explained.  Most of the plot seems like it was worked out during filming.  The bad guy is a gay Spanish weirdo who's backstory makes no sense.  It is impossible to emotionally invest in any of the characters because they are all boring one d... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RLTShirley at 04:43, 01 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: hugely disappointed

Schizo Bond, all over the shop, wish I'd have just waited for the DVD, 2.5 out of 5, the reviewers were very favourable to this film. ... More

Posted by Willy Wood at 18:28, 30 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: hugely disappointed

Agree. It's very odd - Skyfall is meant to be a serious Bond film, yet I find myself nitpicking the plotholes far more than I ever did with a film like Moonraker. After the initial excitement, something inside me dies when I hear the dialogue and see something go awry. It's like when you're looking forward to a date with a fit girl and within two minutes of arriving she's said something dumb that is a real dealbreaker... ... More

Posted by Professor Dent at 15:41, 22 January 2013 | Report This Post


hugely disappointed

Couldn't wait to see Skyfall. Loved Casino Royale & Quantum of Solace. This however was a yawn from start to finish . The worst Bond film ever! Hardly a Bond film at all. More an M. film. If you want to watch 2hrs of Judi Dench playing grumpy (see everything she's ever been in) then you'll love this. Ever since Pierce "squint & pout" Brosnan began his tenure as Bond we've had to endure Dench being shoehorned into Bond films popping up in the field here, there and everywhere, l... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AJRtennis at 01:13, 05 January 2013 | Report This Post


RE: First Bond I won't want to watch again

L: Private Hudson L: Deviation What on Earth is the Bond formula of the last 50 years? The franchise has changed so much throughout the ages, it is asinine to claim there was a constant one, especially if you don't consider Skyfall to follow it. Also, Octopussy is rubbish. here is a formula. Skyfall follows it to some extent but the main diversion from the formula is there isn't a proper Bond girl (something that could be claimed about QoS). Go read Roald Dahl's view... More

Posted by chris kilby at 01:35, 27 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: First Bond I won't want to watch again

L: Private Hudson Bond didn't even achieve his objective to save M! ould be argued that Silav won.ote] Silva's aim was to get revenge on M himself, but in the end she died from the wounds of a stray bullet fired by one of his henchmen. His instructions were for his men to take out Bond and leave M for him, her eventual death was a mistake. Not only that but the last thing he saw before he died was M's current "favourite," the last rat standing, 007. Not M. Not the woman he'd bee... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 15:39, 25 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: First Bond I won't want to watch again

L: Rgirvan44 I love Bond "fans". "This movie isn't following a pre-set formula! I don't want any surprises or interesting approaches to the series. Just the same thing over and over and over!" ottom line: If the franchise doesn't roll with the times, Bond ceases to exist. You may not like the changes and that's fine but you cannot expect the franchise not to change. L: Private Hudson Where was the threat to the UK? liked that the stakes of the film were much ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 14:10, 25 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: First Bond I won't want to watch again

I love Bond "fans". "This movie isn't following a pre-set formula! I don't want any surprises or interesting approaches to the series. Just the same thing over and over and over!" ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 14:00, 25 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: First Bond I won't want to watch again

L: Deviation What on Earth is the Bond formula of the last 50 years? The franchise has changed so much throughout the ages, it is asinine to claim there was a constant one, especially if you don't consider Skyfall to follow it. Also, Octopussy is rubbish. here is a formula. Skyfall follows it to some extent but the main diversion from the formula is there isn't a proper Bond girl (something that could be claimed about QoS). Go read Roald Dahl's view on the formula and the ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 23:03, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


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