The film's opening action sequence, as usual, is almost a short feature in itself, and once again succeeds in bringing soemthing something new and different to the chase and fight scenes.
This a a very dark movie for MI-6. With Bond (Daniel Craig) missing and presumed dead, M (Dame Judi Dench) finds that her organization is literally under attack both by the machinations of master villian Siva (Javier Bardiem) and a government oversight committee whose chair believes that M and her 00 agents have outlived their usefulness.
Craig and Dench are up to their usual fine standard, with Dame Judi getting still more of an "action" role than she has had in the past. Bardiem is spendidly creepy. His portrayal has been compared to both Lex Luthor (for evil genius) and Heath Ledger's Joker (as much for his inappropriate faux intimacies as for his willingness to create indiscriminately deadly chaos in pursuit of his goals).
There were also very strong performances by Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw in what are likely to be recurring roles, Albert Finney as the gamekeeper of Bond's ancestral home, and Bérénice Marlohe as the "Bond Girl" du jour.
There was much that was old an much that was new in this film. There were both musical and visual homages to early Bond, such as the "Bond in Action" guitar solo, and the appearance of a certain iconic "spy car." (And, it must be admitted, the plot of a former top agent seeking revenge is not exactly new, either--.)
Things that were new and good were in the cinematography. We believe this to be the most atmospherically lit and lushly photographed Bond film ever, in a series that has mostly concentrated on seeing that the stunts were clearly shown. The film made the most of both exotic locations like Istanbul, Shanghai, and Macau, and the desolate moors of Scotland.
Also new to the Bond franchise, or, if not new, back after a long absence, was genuine suspense. The sequence of Bond stalking an assassin through a darkened skyscraper had me on the edge of my seat, and the build up to the final battle at Skyfall built tension nicely. We also saw Bond at his most ruthless: more than once he allows someone else to be killed while waiting for a more auspicious time to act.
Perversely enough, the one thing that annoys me about the movie is the title. Why a lonely house in the hinterlands of Scotland would be called "Skyfall" is beyond me. I'm guessing that some brainstorming session came up with a dramatic title and they wrote the script to fit it in.
All in all, this was a fine addition to the Bond canon. And, as the credits say: "James Bond Will Return!"
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