Movies: "Skyfall" | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "Skyfall"
Movies: "Skyfall"

 

Boy, are you in for a good time at the new James Bond movie.

 

I don’t know what got into British director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,””The Road to Perdition”) but whatever it was, it worked.  He’s brought the energy, the action and the wit of the early Bond movies back to life and the results are pure movie pleasure.

 

Another great asset in “Skyfall” is its villain.  Javier Bardem (the cattle-gun killer in “No Country for Old Men”) plays Silva, a Wikileaks-style computer hacker who burrows into MI6 files, causing all sorts of mayhem.  It’s a personal attack on M (Judi Dench) who winds up with gun in hand alongside Bond, James Bond (Daniel Craig).

 

And there are some new faces on her majesty’s secret service, including youthful nerd Ben Whishaw as Q, this time supplying Bond with a minimum of gadgets.  “Did you want an exploding pen?” he asks.  “We don’t do those anymore.”  There’s also Naomie Harris as Eve, an MI6 field agent backing up Bond in the exciting opening chase.  And there’s Ralph Fiennes as Mallory, M’s new overseer, who wants her gone within two months.  

 

He’s not on that team, but Albert Finney is delightful as Kincade, the gamekeeper of Bond’s old family estate.  And for the first time, we get a little bit of Bond’s back story.  We even get a return visit of Bond’s original Aston Martin, complete with ejector seat and front-mounted machine guns.

 

One of the pleasures of the Bond franchise is its worldwide settings, and “Skyfall” is no exception.  The action starts in Istanbul, then moves to London and an amazing neon-lit Shanghai, a posh gambling parlor on Macau, complete with hungry Komodo dragons, and finally in Scotland.  Cinematographer Roger Deakins (who filmed most of the Coen brothers’ movies, most recently “True Grit”) does a terrific job of capturing the scenery and the fast-moving action in the foreground.

 

Screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan have come up with a clever plot, but more importantly for old-time Bond fans have returned the small touches (Bond shooting his cuffs during a chase, for example) and the stunning surprises that made this franchise so much fun in the early years.  I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but watch for the line, “This one’s for you.”

 

Mendes clearly wanted to have fun with this movie and he succeeded.  There are breathtaking chases, beautiful women, spectacular scenery, massive explosions and clever lines.  What more could you ask from a James Bond movie?

 

“Skyfall” is rated PG-13 for violence and some sensual moments.  I give it an A.

 

Go, enjoy yourselves at the movies.

 

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