Espionage becomes leaner, meaner and shadowy. Can James Bond still make the earth move — or the sky fall?
The first thing Bond (Craig) blows to bits in Skyfall is all those cracks about mid-life crises. Despite flunking his fitness test, Bond reveals how he's fab at 50, making his vintage his most powerful weapon. As espionage changes from competing nations to individuals spreading violence for money and thrills, Bond grapples with 'Silva' Rodriguez (Bardem), former MI6 agent determined to destroy department head M (Dench) for having left him to Chinese mercy after he overstepped his brief. As Bond and Silva race with whistle- out-loud (WOL) action towards an edgy M, those watching Skyfall have a ball.
Right away, Skyfall is a love-bite to London, celebrating all that's Brit and Bond-branded - clever since it leaves those younger Yankee spies looking a little plain. Realising history's cash-worth, Skyfall plugs everything beautiful about the British — Tubes, tunnels and Tennyson, damp, rainy skies, humour sharp like a Savile Row suit, china bulldogs, even manual shaving kits — smoothly blended with explosive American pace. Plus Iberian charm, expressed oh-so-silkily by a beaming Bardem, perfect as the campy Silva, unbuttoning Bond's shirt to go lovingly where no man has been before. Although Bond does rasp at him, "What makes you think this is my first time?" Well, well, Commander.
Clever little moments like that keep exploding, Bond telling the young new Q (wonderful Whishaw) handing him tiny new-age gadgetry, "You've still got spots", to be wryly told, "Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don't really go for that anymore." Bond must constantly mind the age-gap, dealing with younger spies and with terror changing enough to hit London while going online. To tackle this and save M from strangely Oedipal Silva, Bond rides the underside of a lift up a skyscraper, swims through a river of ice, blows his country home to bits, beds two beautiful babes - even weeps.
Skyfall is possibly the most emotional Bond movie yet, James re-visiting his childhood home, M facing her exit. But alongside its sentimentality, it has standard Bond fun - Oriental heavies, hissing Iguanas, casinos, cocktails, backless gowns, melting kisses in warm showers, sadism, saxophones and sparkling repartee. Sure, it sags slightly, gets teary-eyed and despite a hot Miss Moneypenny (Harris), its sexiness feels a tad restrained. But catch Skyfall anyhow. It's still special enough for your eyes only.