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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 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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Bond On Set: Filming Skyfall
 
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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Skyfall
Empire Star Rating

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

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. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 18:33, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


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

L: wolds I have to own up I love most of the Bond film, except the last of the Roger Moore ones when the budgets were thin and the plots thinner (I even love OHMSS). But along came Barbara Brocolli and Timothy Dalton who rescued the franchise from oblivion. rs Brosnan ones were adequate placeholders if a bit lamealong came Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and suddenly we had a truly good film in every sense on the word with only a little bit of "not real world" action (the defib machine i... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 18:08, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best Bond ever ?

L: england_cmr Oooh, is that what they are planning? I think that could be really good if they do it right. But as you say it will be difficult to make it not ridiculous. ut who cares? Bond is not real nor lives in the 'real' world (as if any film is really real!). Why did they make all those copycat movies and spoofs of Bond in the 60s and 70s? Because Bond was something different. Bond's USP was guns, girls and gadgets. He was stylish beyond compare. He was living the Playboy ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 18:04, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best Bond ever ?

L: england_cmr I'd give Skyfall 4/5. It just seemed like classic Bond in everyway. I think it worked as a modern take on the series and yet it could be considered amongst the likes of 'The Spy Who Loved Me', 'Goldfinger' etc. However, I didn't think it was as good as Casino Royale, and I found it just a anti climatic. I hope for the next Bond we have a climax more akin in scale to perhaps 'You Only Live Twice'. I'd love to see a modern / grounded take on the classic 'Supervillian' wit... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 18:02, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Disappointing

L: Phubbs Skyfall Ah good old blighty, red letter boxes, bubble n squeak and now Bond seems to be back home for most of this new adventure. So no more glorious locations and outrageous set pieces involving overly tanned women and Lotus Esprits? well kinda. Bond film number 23, geez! does this franchise really need to carry on?. Well yes and no if you ask me, yes he's pretty much one of the UK's best known fictional heroes alongside 'Sherlock Holmes' and practically a tourist ... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 18:00, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: A Leap In The Right Direction

L: Sotto Voce I thought all the nods and winks were far too heavy-handed and self-aware. The exploding pen and ejector seat gags, for instance. It didn't really pull off the tonal shift it was supposed to. One minute you're watching the straight-down-the-line Bond, the next you're in Roger Moore territory. oger Moore Bond movies are great family entertainment. It all swings and roundabouts. Taste moves in cycles. I am sure than in a few years Bond will be more like cinematic Bond sho... More

Posted by Private Hudson at 17:58, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Brilliant

Skyfall is a great movie and thanks for article with trailer of the movie.............. ... More

Posted by Joserabal at 07:18, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best Bond ever ?

Oooh, is that what they are planning? I think that could be really good if they do it right. But as you say it will be difficult to make it not ridiculous. ... More

Posted by england_cmr at 05:57, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best Bond ever ?

L: england_cmr I'd give Skyfall 4/5. It just seemed like classic Bond in everyway. I think it worked as a modern take on the series and yet it could be considered amongst the likes of 'The Spy Who Loved Me', 'Goldfinger' etc. However, I didn't think it was as good as Casino Royale, and I found it just a anti climatic. I hope for the next Bond we have a climax more akin in scale to perhaps 'You Only Live Twice'. I'd love to see a modern / grounded take on the classic 'Supervillian' wit... More

Posted by Deviation at 04:52, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Best Bond ever ?

I'd give Skyfall 4/5. It just seemed like classic Bond in everyway. I think it worked as a modern take on the series and yet it could be considered amongst the likes of 'The Spy Who Loved Me', 'Goldfinger' etc. However, I didn't think it was as good as Casino Royale, and I found it just a anti climatic. I hope for the next Bond we have a climax more akin in scale to perhaps 'You Only Live Twice'. I'd love to see a modern / grounded take on the classic 'Supervillian' with a MENTAL plan. I think... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by england_cmr at 02:07, 24 December 2012 | Report This Post


Best Bond ever ?

I just don't see what all the fuss was about with Skyfall, claims that it is the best Bond ever are ludicrous. The plot of a former agent seeking revenge was done with far more menace and conviction by Sean Bean in Goldeneye and Daniel Craig had a far meatier role in Casino Royale, no coincidence the director on both occasions being the king of the 007 reboot - Martin Campbell. Javier Bardem's camp performance would have been better suited to the later Roger Moore era and was a far cry from hi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Uncle_Ethan at 10:26, 23 December 2012 | Report This Post


I would have given this 4.5 but there's no option for half-star ratings. This is a really superb Bond film. Considering how Casino Royale reinvented the character so successfully, this is a worthy successor to the legacy of both the classic and the newer versions of Bond, and manages to blend the two almost perfectly. Superb acting, great story,brilliant direction and stunning cinematography, this film really was the perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of cinemas most succ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AC1993 at 15:39, 20 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: The Puddled Duck L: hatebox This felt far more like a Bond film for me than Casno Royale did. The problem is, no can unanimously agree what a 'Bond' flm feels like. walked out. The problem for me is that Skyfall itself didn't seem to know what it was about, schitzo Bond IMHO, it nodded to the past, then made fun of the past, the did a Die Hard, bit of Bourne, bit of Mission Impossible, bit of Deer Hunter, nod again to the passed, takes the piss out of its self, all ... More

Posted by NCC1701A at 13:10, 17 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: hatebox This felt far more like a Bond film for me than Casno Royale did. The problem is, no can unanimously agree what a 'Bond' flm feels like. walked out. The problem for me is that Skyfall itself didn't seem to know what it was about, schitzo Bond IMHO, it nodded to the past, then made fun of the past, the did a Die Hard, bit of Bourne, bit of Mission Impossible, bit of Deer Hunter, nod again to the passed, takes the piss out of its self, all over the shop IMHO, poor plot... More

Posted by The Puddled Duck at 17:38, 16 December 2012 | Report This Post


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

L: wolds I have to own up I love most of the Bond film, except the last of the Roger Moore ones when the budgets were thin and the plots thinner (I even love OHMSS). But along came Barbara Brocolli and Timothy Dalton who rescued the franchise from oblivion. The Piers Brosnan ones were adequate placeholders if a bit lame. Then along came Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and suddenly we had a truly good film in every sense on the word with only a little bit of "not real world" action (the d... More

Posted by The Puddled Duck at 17:34, 16 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: hatebox This felt far more like a Bond film for me than Casno Royale did. The problem is, no can unanimously agree what a 'Bond' flm feels like. walked out. The problem for me is that Skyfall itself didn't seem to know what it was about, schitzo Bond IMHO, it nodded to the past, then made fun of the past, the did a Die Hard, bit of Bourne, bit of Mission Impossible, bit of Deer Hunter, nod again to the passed, takes the piss out of its self, all over the shop IMHO, poor plot... More

Posted by The Puddled Duck at 17:28, 16 December 2012 | Report This Post


First Bond I won't want to watch again

I have to own up I love most of the Bond film, except the last of the Roger Moore ones when the budgets were thin and the plots thinner (I even love OHMSS). But along came Barbara Brocolli and Timothy Dalton who rescued the franchise from oblivion. The Piers Brosnan ones were adequate placeholders if a bit lame. Then along came Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and suddenly we had a truly good film in every sense on the word with only a little bit of "not real world" action (the defib mach... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wolds at 16:30, 16 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Disappointing

Saw it again. I really liked it the first time, but I bloody loved it the second time! I actually had no idea the introductory scene between Silva and Bond was so homoerotic though, when I first saw it this scene was interrupted by hundreds of people walking in from another screening (presumably their viewing had been halted for some unforeseen reason), which pretty much ruined Silva's introduction after the rat chewing story. A worthy contender for best Bond film ever ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 04:15, 16 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Disappointing

Skyfall Ah good old blighty, red letter boxes, bubble n squeak and now Bond seems to be back home for most of this new adventure. So no more glorious locations and outrageous set pieces involving overly tanned women and Lotus Esprits? well kinda. Bond film number 23, geez! does this franchise really need to carry on?. Well yes and no if you ask me, yes he's pretty much one of the UK's best known fictional heroes alongside 'Sherlock Holmes' and practically a tourist attraction. On the ... More

Posted by Phubbs at 07:55, 14 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Meh

They maybe think it's a neologism. Not, as 'meh' is, a word you'll find in most dictionaries now  ... More

Posted by elab49 at 00:10, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Meh

L: empirequeen That's how i can sum it up with 1 word...even if it's a made up word! ll words are made-up, aren't they...? ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 00:01, 13 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Meh

I enjoyed the movie. But i don't think its the best Bond ever. What worked was the script, action and acting. Ralph Fiennes was brilliant as was everyone else. What didn't work was the last 40 minutes and also the villan. Its not his fault but Javier Bardem was way too camp and not really menancing enough for a villan. Still a good movie and one i would see again. ... More

Posted by princessa at 21:48, 08 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: A Leap In The Right Direction

OK, finally got to watch this at the weekend so he are my thoughts. This film had been getting massive hype so going in I have to say I was quite excited. Did it deliver? Yes and no, What it got right - The pre-credit chase scene was superb I thought, good stunts, brutal, frenetic and it set the tone perfectly for the rest of the film. For the first 10 minutes I thought YES GAME ON. The cinematography is also superb. Hats off to Mendes as he has done a stunning job here and th... More

Posted by Don_a_van at 15:55, 04 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: A Leap In The Right Direction

I thought all the nods and winks were far too heavy-handed and self-aware. The exploding pen and ejector seat gags, for instance. It didn't really pull off the tonal shift it was supposed to. One minute you're watching the straight-down-the-line Bond, the next you're in Roger Moore territory. ... More

Posted by Sotto Voce at 12:39, 01 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE:

This felt far more like a Bond film for me than Casno Royale did. The problem is, no can unanimously agree what a 'Bond' flm feels like. ... More

Posted by hatebox at 16:28, 20 November 2012 | Report This Post


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