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Skyfall : The best James Bond movie yet!? Reviews are in!

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

A mixture of sexy elements means nothing in today’s misleading mamba of moviedom, but with Sam Mendes on directing duties, Javier Bardem channeling a textbook asshole, and a script that forgets “Quantum of Solace” happened, there was a fair chance the new Bond movie “Skyfall” was going to be a perfectly ace time.

With quite a few offline and online journalists, many not even on the Sony payroll, having seen the film and swearing black and blue that it’s brilliant (I’ve even read a couple of tweets suggesting it could be the best 007 film ever!?), early hopes have been solidified.

Here’s what they’re saying about “Skyfall”, opening next month, on the www :

The Hollywood Reporter says :

Ultimately, there is a very conscious, even articulated effort to balance the old and new, the traditional and the modern in Skyfall — stylistically, dramatically and thematically. Longtime series producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have never gone so far as to hire a full control-demanding auteur to direct one of their films, and while Mendes is certainly the most distinguished outside director they’ve ever brought aboard, he’s one as tradition-minded as he is innovative.

Many of the dramatic scenes would do justice to a non-genre film, and the same can be said of the quality of the acting. The traditional quips surface at times in low-key form; some of them are quite good and they’re never corny. The action, much of it presumably staged by veteran second unit director Alexander Witt, is consistently strong (even if a motorcycle and jeep chase through the jammed streets of Istanbul reminds, as did a recent one through Manila in The Bourne Legacy, that motorized chases through thick urban crowds are never entirely convincing).

Tonally, the fundamental seriousness of the film places Skyfall at the other end of the Bond spectrum from the monkeyshines of some of the silliest Roger Moore entries, such as Moonraker and A View to A Kill.

The Times says :

Skyfall is a great British bulldog of a movie. From the moment the orchestral sound of Adele belts out, sending a nostalgic shiver down the audience’s collective spine, we know this will be a triumphant return to classic Bond. Sam Mendes, the director, deftly balances fanboy worship of 007 tradition with sophisticated film-making, and (apart from early Connery), nobody does it better than Daniel Craig.

The Daily Mail says :

This Bond adventure directed by Sam Mendes is pure classic 007 fare , back on firm footing after the less than memorable Quantum of Solace.

Skyfall was a fantastic combination of 007 meets Bourne meets Spooks meets Home Alone.

The Guardian says ;

Craig, as ever, makes for a splendidly authoritative Bond, even when he’s suffering a crisis of faith and scowling at his reflection inside dirty mirrors. But he’s matched beautifully by Bardem’s playful, jubilant turn as the silken Raoul Silva, who sets out to turn 007 against M (“Mummy’s been very bad”) and quite possibly take her place.

Audaciously, Skyfall’s most sexually charged moment comes not with the femme fatale at that gaudy casino but during the extended interrogation scene, as Silva runs his fingers across Bond’s bare chest, then reaches down to part his legs. “What’s your regulation training for this?” Silva teases him. “What makes you think it’s my first time?” 007 shoots back – a tacit reminder that he went to Eton after all.

These smart, sure-footed antics set us up nicely for a devastating finale. And yet I couldn’t help feeling that Mendes’ hitherto sinuous, satisfying vehicle veers worryingly into the rough during a mishandled final section on a Scottish grouse moor that effectively doubles as Memory Lane.

By this point, the makers of Skyfall have taken the bold decision to open Bond up – to probe at the character’s back-story and raise a toast to his relationship with M. Yet this touchy-feely indulgence proves to be a mistake, in that it paves the path to soft-headedness, nostalgia and (worst of all) jokey banter with Bond’s bearded old retainer. Don’t they realise that 007 has always been at his most convincing when he’s at his crudest and least adorned; when he’s serving as a blank canvas for macho fantasy; the dark angel of our disreputable natures?

At one stage, fighting to keep her job before a parliamentary select committee, M refers to Bond as a necessary evil: a creature in the shadows fighting creatures in the shadows. Far better to leave him there, with all guns blazing and the lights turned low.

SugarScape says :

This is actually one of the more emotional Bond films that we’ve seen – there’s no master plan to destroy the world or a laser beam threatening to blow up the moon, but the plot focuses on revenge and personal vendettas – which makes for a fair few tear-jerking moments.

Den of Geek says :

Daniel Craig has long since placed his own stamp on Bond, and he once again brings an engaging, human dimension to this most iconic of spies. This is a Bond who’s variously tense, vulnerable, tipsy, embittered and as promiscuous as we’ve come to expect. It’s also pleasing to see Bond the detective as well as the man of action, as he uses his Sherlockian skills to entertaining effect in one small yet memorable moment.

It’s a 007 movie confident enough in its writing to dial back the action sequences when it needs to, and instead rely on suspense and wonderfully dry dialogue to carry large chunks of the film. Judy Dench is once again wonderfully icy as M; newcomer Naomie Harris is effervescent as Bond’s occasional sidekick and new verbal sparring partner, Eve, while Ben Whishaw is quietly charismatic as the new, computer-savvy Q.

Skyfall keeps its action sequences well spaced out, and its manner of gradually building up to its set-pieces is more akin to Dr No or Goldfinger than, say, the more outlandish action of Die Another Day or Moonraker. And because those build-ups are so measured, the action sequences, when they arrive, sparkle all the more.

Skyfall’s so well paced, in fact, that it’s easy to miss that all the things we’d expect are still in place – there are exotic locations, glamorous women in expensive dresses, explosions and car chases, but all presented in a manner which feels surprisingly fresh.

Once again, the way Skyfall is shot plays a key role in this – Roger Deakins’ cinematography is unusual and striking, adding drama and artistry to familiar action sequences. One scene in particular, a moment of suspense silhouetted against the surreal, acid colours of a neon sign, is quite breathtaking.

Perhaps influenced by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, Skyfall has a sweeping, Wagnerian sense of epic scale and foreboding. Thomas Newman’s sublime score underlines the sense of apocalyptic events, and the movie’s at its best when it’s contrasting violence and quiet suspense, the old and the new, the grand and the intimate.

I personally cannot wait – – but it must be said, this fine piece will be missed from proceedings…

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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

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