Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

November 8, 2012

Movie Review: "Skyfall" is an action-packed masterpiece

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Knoxville — The latest entry in the 50-year-old James Bond franchise, "Skyfall" is about to hit theaters. Fans are in for a treat as Bond reminds us that just because there are a lot of new action heroes out there, the classics will never die. 

"Skyfall" is the third picture with Daniel Craig playing the superspy. Craig continues to bring a rugged face to Bond, and with it, humanity. This plays well into the underlying theme of the movie, which is that things age whether we like them to or not. 

Following an exciting opening chase/fight scene, Bond disappears. He reappears only when a hacker attacks MI-6. 

The attack on the headquarters really brings the age issue into the forefront, as Bond's longtime boss, M (Judi Dench) is blamed for being unprepared for the incident. She is told she will retire within a specified time frame and will be replaced by a former soldier, played by Ralph Fiennes. 

We soon learn that the attacker is trying to seek revenge on M. A disgruntled former employee, Silva (Javier Bardem) is revealed as the man behind the plot. Bardem makes a great Bond villain. As creepy-looking as he can be, it seems as though it was only a matter of time before he played such a role. His villainy does not quite reach the level of some of those in Bond's past, but it wasn't supposed to be.

At the risk of letting out a spoiler, Bond is essentially at odds with himself. The real conflicts he is having are with technology and time. Silva's past is remarkably similar to Bond's. When coupled with M's apparent preference for Bond, and his protection, the antagonism between Bond and Silva plays out more like a sibling rivalry. Just with a lot of shooting, fighting and awesome explosions. 

Director Sam Mendes brings stunning visuals to the screen throughout the film. He brilliantly uses them to to illustrate that while new is good, one should never stop appreciating the old. 

Whether it is the bright lights and modern beauty of today's Shanghai, or the rolling hills of Scotland, there is beauty everywhere to appreciate. Just as stunning is Berenice Marlohe, this edition's Bond girl. Bond girls usually don't have much of a role, and this is no exception, but when she's on screen, it's hard to notice anything else. For the ladies, I'm sure the same can be said for Craig's facial close-ups and shirtless scenes, of which there are plenty. 

Dench plays a more pivotal role than in films past. Obviously, she's Judi Dench, so she's going to deliver. 

In the end, Mendes' world for Bond is an exceptional mix of old and new that should have you and the rest of your audience impressed. The humor, the action, the hidden gems that pay homage to the character's legacy make for a wonderful moviegoing experience. Go see this film in the theater as soon as you can.