Skyfall

Do you ever ask the question, “Why in God’s name do I take the time to go to the movies?” Go see this movie and you will know the answer.

SkyfallSkyfall is a colossal film that is nothing less than brilliantly entertaining. Director Sam Mendes and actor Daniel Craig combine to capture James Bond in breathtaking fashion.

Look, I know that many of you are not greatly attracted to the Bond films, as there is no question that some of them have been borderline woeful. Sean Connery did a fantastic job with his original creation of 007 on the screen, but it devolved in to little more than a sad, running joke after he passed the baton to Roger Moore and others.

As demonstrated in both Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008), Daniel Craig has brought Mr. Bond back to life. Sure he is handsome and debonaire, but he is a mean adversary on a motorcycle or on the top of a train, and he is delightfully memorable at every turn.

And please don’t forget his fantastic role as Mikael Blomqvist in last year’s compelling The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Sure, he may have come up short in Cowboys and Aliens (2011), but he was unforgettable playing the Polish Nazi fighter in Defiance (2008).

But he was also compelling in three films that you really should take the time to see. The Golden Compass (2007) suffered a lot of criticism, but I loved it. He has never been better than in Layer Cake (2004), and he certainly was no James Bond recreation in Infamous (2006), where he played the gay inmate Perry Smith in the film based upon Truman Capote’s epic “In Cold Blood”.

Additionally, what makes Skyfall so powerful flows proportionately from the monumental performances of Judi Dench as M and Javier Bardem as the villainous Silva. Nearly everyone knows that Ms. Dench’s eyesight is failing, and her loving, tenacious performance here as Bond’s supervisor serves as a lasting testament to her extraordinary career.

As for Mr. Bardem, no one acting today remotely comes near him when it comes to breathing life into hideous villains. Who can possibly forget his chilling role as Anton Chigurh, the laconic, emotionless killer with the bowl haircut in the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men (2007).

Here, his head now covered with flowing blond locks, he is a former MI6 agent who is dedicated to infiltrating his former employer and taking out
revenge on M. He is thoughtful, demented and pathetically funny to the very end.

The plot itself is full of twists and turns that take Bond near death. Like M, he is gradually aging to the point where the question for both is whether it is time that they politely disappear in to retirement. Neither likes the idea, and both fully understand that they aren’t dead yet.

I should also note that Ben Whishaw makes a memorable appearance as Q, the young man who is now the technological advisor to Mr. Bond. Furthermore, the accomplished Ralph Fiennes appears as M’s likely successor, and we will undoubtedly see more of him in the future. After all, if Mr. Fiennescan play Voldemort in the Harry Potter films, why can’t he successfully lead MI6?

Mr. Mendes does a terrific job as a director of this extraordinary film. While the special effects are at times spectacular, particularly the fight on the top of a train and a motorcycle chase, they simply are allowed to blend into the overall strength of the movie rather than dominating it.

In addition, Mr. Mendes not only eliminates some of the sad, repetitive jokes of prior Bond films (i.e. “Shaken, not stirred”), he also has the good sense to breathe life into the female characters. In particular, Naomi Harris is in her own league as Eve, a Bond colleague who comes to his aid. Thankfully, there is no cheap sex between the two, and she is as cryptic when intentionally tantalizing Bond as he is utterly hopeless in her pursuit.

Additionally, Berenice Marlohe is startling attractive as Severine, the doomed forced paramour of Bardem. While she and Bond end up in a wonderful sexual scene when both are in the shower, her fate is tragic, particularly since it occurs in Bond’s presence.

This is a film that simply can’t be missed. It has Oscar knocking on its door which likely includes the theme song sung by Adele. No excuses my friends, as there is a seat waiting for you.