3rd Review: Skyfall

October 26th? Not in this country.

Hello guys, welcome to the weekend and The Tagline! This week I decided that rather than doing a top 5 list, I would do a third review, given that I just got out to see Skyfall, the new James bond film currently in theaters. No tagline for this one, Skyfall IS the tagline I guess. Skyfall is the third James Bond film starring Daniel Craig as Bond (the first two being Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace if you didn't see them) and these movies represent a kind of renaissance of the Bond brand. Casino Royale was a spectacular film, that gave the Bond franchise a new lease on life, by dropping the excessively lame punning, the goofy super weapons and silly gadgets, and replacing them with honest to god espionage. In doing so they also gave us a new Bond. Still charismatic, and sharply dressed (at times) but a real spy, a dangerous, possibly unstable individual who doesn't hesitate to pull the trigger, or do whatever it takes to get the job done. He spends a lot of time killing people, and getting beat up. Skyfall manages to raise the stakes again (and it really seems in the current movie climate that's always the name of the game) and pushes 007 to his limits.

This movie shows us an even more messed up Bond.
Skyfall again eschews silly plots for the less absurd and more topical subjects of international crime and terrorism for profit, when a hard drive with the identities of all NATO field agents is stolen. The movie basically starts with Bond being shot off a train and left for dead, and when he comes back he is considerably worse for the wear. Worse, he finds himself up against an opponent with a personal grudge against MI6 (and M specifically, portrayed again by Dame Judi Dench) and someone who knows how the ins and outs of their system. These elements come together to make a movie where tension is in ready supply, and turmoil is pretty much constant from beginning to end. This was a nice move on their part I think, because after two movies using the same timeline and Bond, they still managed to make it fresh and create an environment where no one was safe, and deciding who could be trusted was extremely difficult. Also while certain action sequences strain credulity (not very many though) I found that compared to most action movies the things happening on screen were all pretty much within the realm of possibility.

The villain in this film is also to its credit (played by Javier Bardem, you might remember him from No Country For Old Men if you saw that). I won't tell you who he is, so I don't spoil too much, but he is simultaneously a good villain, a believable brand of crazy, and also very much a classic style Bond villain. We see an individual who is refined but amoral, both intelligent and completely insane, who has developed the means to cause serious harm on a large scale, and who is willing to do that for his own demented ends. He understands Bond in the way that a complete sociopath can understand other people, and he knows how to manipulate people to get what he wants. Also he is really, genuinely creepy, and secretly deformed! That to me was just so very Bond movie.

Meet the new super hipster Q.
Another thing I noticed about this movie, and really liked, was how it went to great lengths to make new things like the old, just the way that Casino Royale did sort of the opposite, making a very traditional spy story setup (and one taken from the first Bond novel) and setting it in the present day. It's tough to explain just how they do this without spoiling too much, but Skyfall is very much about being confronted with the past, and dealing with how it will effect the future. The movie cleverly slides in conventions from older bond movies, characters from the past given a new incarnation, and also picks fun at the foibles that had so long been present in the series (There is one scene where Q gives Bond his mission gear. A subcompact handgun, a tiny radio transmitter, and nothing else). All in all, this movie does a fantastic job at being very enjoyable on its own, while fitting in a lot of nods and winks that long term fans of James Bond will pick up on and enjoy. So far critics seem to more or less agree with me.

Bond finds time to stop and take in some art.
That's about everything there is to say! It has action, explosions, gunfights, espionage, sexy ladies, sexy cars, and a heaping helping of Daniel Craig without his shirt on. Definitely try not to miss this one! I'll see you all on Tuesday, with another movie review! Enjoy your weekend, and maybe take in a movie!

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