The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Bond's latest caper, ‘Skyfall' sticks the landing


By John Dorman, For Journal Register News Service

Friday, December 21, 2012

This is a Bond Movie. “Skyfall” suffers from the same phenomenal flaws and predictable fantasies of any James Bond Movie, examples of both would be Bond’s inability to die.
For the third time we watch Daniel Craig portray Bond, James Bond, and he’s signed on for two more, so there’ll be more from Craig as Bond in the coming years. Because of this fact, as well as sitting through “Skyfall,” one can’t wait for the features to come.
“Skyfall” set quite a stage—something cleverly crafted by legendary director of film and theater Sam Mendes (director of “American Beauty” and director of Craig in “Road to Perdition”). This film pays homage to every Bond film, most likely, and finding more than one direct reference for any fan of the Bond Franchise is an easy task even if the viewer has a limited knowledge of 007.
This franchise isn’t built on Bond alone, however, for the villain serves a bigger part than the British agent in many cases; “Skyfall” understands that the man waiting in the shadows until his climatic entrance is something that’ll make or break your motion picture.
For this task, Javier Bardem enters—and hits the thing out of the park. As Silva, Bardem (the Oscar-winning actor from “No Country for Old Men”) nearly owns the whole movie. And for his introductory scene, shot marvelously by camera wizard Roger Deakins, Silva saunters towards Bond as he’s tied to a chair. Then, Silva presents Bond with an interesting analogy on how he sees their relationship.
The monologue is about how his grandmother taught him to get rid of rats when he was a child, and right when Silva’s about to lose us, he gets right down to the point: Bond and him are the last two rats left; they can either attempt to eat each other, or they can change their nature and move about the wild forever altered. Talk about an introduction.
From this point forward Bond and Silva do a dance—each man trying to lead—and they waltz slowly into our hearts stirring memories of the Bond flicks of old. References picked up are the best-Bond villains ever, both Jaws and Senor Sanchez, occurring in the same sequence. Bardem shines in this moment, yet, most impressively, he’s not even on screen for one of them.
The latter villain to whom “Skyfall” refers comes from M (the Queen of British banter Judi Dench), and it stems from a conversation between Bond and M when she tells 007 Silva’s roots via his nationality; for, not only is he not an Englishman, he’s not even a gentleman. Point taken.
Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (both of whom are Bond franchise vets) join forces with John Logan (writer of “Rango”) to keep us guessing up until the end exactly what is going to happen. The character development of Bond Girl Eve (Naomie Harris) and former soldier turned politician Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) is quintessential James Bond cinema, because once we think we’ve got them pegged, they flip us on our collective heads.
The last example of a well written character is green-around-the-ears Q (Ben Whishaw). And he’s got room to grow: One more reason to be excited about the future.
Music by Thomas Newman holds serve as he conducts the legendary Bond Song, but the new Adele song that plays us through the opening credits upholds the tradition of giving us hints of what’s to come that we only remember in hindsight.
“Skyfall” isn’t on par with the likes of “Dr. No” or “The Man with the Golden Gun,” yet it’s still the best Bond film in years.