‘Skyfall’ is vintage Bond and worth watching

Published 2:32 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

By Hugh McDonald

Picayune Item

“Skyfall,” the 23rd film in the James Bond series marks its 50th anniversary.  Directed by Sam Mendes (Jarhead, 2005) Daniel Craig plays 007 believably and consistently.  Bond’s name comes from an American ornithologist of the same name. His appearance is patterned after American musician Hoagy Carmichael.

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Craig is not the only topnotch actor in “Skyfall.”  Judy Dench’s “M” is believable.  “M”’s position as head of MI-6 demands she be stoic and decisive.  Her ability to show how “M” puts up with Bond’s antics and makes hard decisions sells the character.

Craig and Dench were 007 and “M” for two movies. “Q” is played by Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas, 2012). His version of the character was not in “Casino Royale” (2006) or “Quantum of Solace” (2008). Whishaw puts a youthful, computer savvy face on his character. But, as 007 shows, sometimes the old ways are best.

“Skyfall” spotlights a battle-worn Bond.  Despite tailored suits and poker face, his physical and psychological wounds begin to show. He is shot twice, fights more than one bad guy, and is reminded of his age by other characters. He refuses to talk much about his parents or what “Skyfall” is until well in to the movie.

Bond also shows his age by using his trademark Walther PPK and the Aston Martin DB5 that debuted in “Goldfinger.”

The music is a blend of old and new. Musicians such as Duran Duran and Madonna have contributed to the series since the original “James Bond Theme,” written by Monty Norman.  The song “Skyfall,” sung by ADELE, is the latest contribution.  The music video played during opening credits is in keeping with the series  “kaleidoscopic” traditions for opening credits.

Silva (Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men” 2007) the villain, also has distinctive music and plays the French song “Boum” by Charles Trenet during an intense moment with 007 and Severine (Bernice Marlohe,) the “Bond Girl.”  Silva fits into the pantheon of Bond villains with money, style, the girl, the island, and the intellect.

I was impressed with “Skyfall.”  Fans expect a suave, intelligent Bond, a girl for him to chase through exotic locations, and a sophisticated nemesis.  “Skyfall” delivers.  The movie tells you enough about Bond’s past to keep you interested while not being overly sentimental.  However, 007 is too indestructible, the movie doesn’t justify Severine’s fear of Silva  — shown by her trembling hand at the mention of him — and it is time to deviate from the archetypal villain.  Viewers are getting tired of seeing 007 chase the same bad guy in different clothes.  Show us a grittier, more realistic villain. Still, it was worth seeing!