John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews


Genre: Action and Adventure

Director: Sam Mendes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Helen McCrory, Rory Kinear, Albert Finney, Judi Dench

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: November 9th 2012

He’s back. Bond, approved James Bond—that is.

In what is being described as the best Bond movie in years, director Sam Mendes has crafted a thrilling treat that not only succeeds as a Bond movie. It succeeds as a grand action movie in its own right. This fresh and beautifully-crafted story will please non-fans of the series and will likely excite fans as well.

Like many Bonds before it, “Skyfall” begins with an outrageous- yet intelligent- action sequence. Sure, much of the action is over the top but it’s par for the course for James Bond to chase terrorists from the streets to the rooftop of a neighborhood to the top of a moving train. In this particular scene, though, his loyal mentor M (Judi Dench) makes a call that foreshadows much of the rest of the story. When the chance to retrieve a vital piece of international intelligence is on the line, she directs one of her agents to “Take the bloody shot” against the threat even though she knows that Bond could easily be shot instead.

Thus sets into motion a story that finds M playing a major role while an unknown assailant begins terrorizing her and the MI-6 team. Played by Javier Bardem, this sexually provocative villain proves to be a worthy nemesis to both Bond and the agency.

In his third outing as the lead character, Craig brings a strict dignity and strong personality to the character. His Bond is one who loves his country but is willing to disappear until the time is right. He’s a loyal soldier but when pushed, he notes that if the country doesn’t need his service any more, they should just say it and get it over with. He could do without the bureaucracy.

While providing fans with many of the familiar elements that mark a Bond movie and offering up some applause-worthy nods to the franchise, this film also provides something more than what wee expect. It puts the fallibility and flaws of some of the main characters on center stage. M, for one, is seen not simply as a mentor to Bond but as a supervisor who over the years has made some distressing calls and who seems to regret some of the decisions she has made. Sure, she’s a leader whose had to make tough calls but she’s also a person who wonders what would have happened if she hadn’t made some of tough calls.

There’s also a deep emotional element to this Bond film that was missing in some of the earlier entries. Not only do we get to glimpse things from Bond’s youth but we get to see some of our heroes face really tough and personal situations. Few, if any of the main characters, walk away from this story without some serious scars being left.

Along the way, Adele offers up a great new Bond song and a few strong characters get to point the franchise in an exciting new direction. It is, for instance, hard not to enjoy Ben Whinshaw’s turn as a young Q. Watching Bond interact with this tech-savvy and hip youngster is amusing especially as the film- while offering such fresh blood- explores the idea that Bond and M are at the age where their services might not be required anymore.

Both are pushed to retire gracefully by the agency they have served so well. Thankfully, neither one takes the offer.

When M is pushed to retire at one point for dignity’s sake, she responds by saying “”Oh to hell with dignity. I’ll leave when the job is done.”

For fans and non-fans alike, “Skyfall” gets the job done. It’s a must-see.

Review by: John Hanlon