Mark's Review of Skyfall
The venerable Bond franchise chalks up another successful venture with Skyfall, and combines the best of the past, as well as an effective update of Bond for the future. Nothing is better than a trained agent to sort out a mystery, and Bond goes through hell and a half again to try to track down a rogue agent that has stolen a valuable list of high-placed double agents. The movie opens with the usual bang, and this high-energy chase ranks up there with the best of them.
The movie then moves into the research phase, and this gives time for some character introspective. Is Bond archaic? Is he unable to balance his job with loyalty. These themes have always run through the Bond franchise, and Director Mendes hones close to Flemings original ideas yet again, and Daniel Craig turns in another stone-faced, yet internally emotional performance as 007. You almost know what the character will do before he does it, because we know this character so well. We can forgive him some failings, and the fact that he's unused to having to rely on a team to do the work, but he leans forward and does his best and with style.
The female Bond girl this time around isn't a twenty-something supermodel, it's Dame Judy Dench, who adds some wonderful moments with Craig as they work out a complex relationship of 'mother and son' in the service of their country. It's great to watch. In fact, the window-dressing females are distinctly secondary in this film, although Namoie Harris has some nice moments helping Bond. Javier Bardem brings a twisted charisma to his villain. He's got mommy issues of his own, but instead of Bond, who trusts his 'mother'; Bardem takes the dark path of revenge. This makes the whole spy realm seem very realistic, since there's never a clear good and evil in this film, mostly that thin veil of duty that keeps the whole spy circuit from unraveling completely.
Mendes also avoids a lot of traps of action films. The movie has a big opening, and a big ending, but has only spurts of action in between. Some might see this as off-pace, but it makes the later sequences more powerful thana sustained and lengthy series of chases all throughout the film. Yes, there are actions in between the beginning and end, but they have real purpose. It's a strong script, with fine attention to detail, and with a strong cast the result is one of the best Bonds made.