Skyfall Review – Licensed to Thrill

James Bond: Everybody Needs a Hobby.

Silva (Villain): So, what’s Yours?

James Bond: Resurrection

I Loved Skyfall.

Loved it. Loved it.

Double-O-7 is back, charging fast and hard.

Navigating a terrain of hazards that would easily fell a lesser intelligence agent.

But never Bond, James Bond of Her Majesty’s Secret Service with a license to kill.

High in the air on a moving train, on the ground in a car/motorbike, deep into the bowels of the earth in a subway tunnel with the train literally crashing on him and finally dragging a tormentor into the deep, icy Scottish waters for the kill – Skyfall is action Nirvana.

It was a full house for the evening show of the newest James Bond film at a theatre on the U.S. East Coast.

Boy, did the audience love this one.

Total, Total Paisa Vasool.

Action Bond – Vintage Villain

In my not so humble opinion, James Bond is only as worthy, as appealing as the monstrous villain Double-O-Seven is up against.

The beauty of Sam Mendes’ Skyfall is to throw in the powerful Spanish actor Javier Bardem as the revenge-seeking villain Silva opposite Daniel Craig’s Bond with Judi ‘M’ Dench providing solid ballast in her biggest role to date in a Bond film.

Never has James Bond’s boss M been such a strong, powerful presence in a Bond film.

Oh, did I tell you, Ralph Fiennes too puts in an appearance in a not insignificant role.

An embarras de richesses when it comes to the acting talent littering Skyfall.

Moments into the film, we got a powerful adrenaline shot with Bond’s colleagues killed in Istanbul and 007 in hot pursuit of the killer, first in a jeep, then transferring to a motorbike for a rooftop chase and finally pole-vaultimg from the motorbike to the roof of a moving train for a man-o-mano fight.

Mouth agape, action film buffs will wet their pants and panties watching that hot chase. Thankfully, the high octane action never, never stops in Skyfall.

At M’s insistent urging from distant London, a reluctant fellow agent Eve (Naomi Harris) takes a shot at the fast-moving target on the train, and oh no, not the villain but Bond plunges into the river, swept away over a fast waterfall into the roaring waters.

Soon we see M writing Bond’s obituary.

Enjoying Death

But a hard-drive containing the names of MI6 agents infiltrated into terrorist organizations worldwide has gone missing and soon lands into the hands of a shadowy group that brings the terror close to London, close to MI6 and ultimately, close to M herself.

And pray, where is Bond all this time?

“Enjoying death,” as Bond puts it to M upon returning to London after the deadly bombings.

No, this is not the neat, suave Bond with the deadly aim of yore.

Au contraire, this is Bond with a stubble, shaky hands and, horror of horrors, an agent who tires easily.

Clearly, not an MI6 agent at the top of his game.

Despite the opposition from some quarters to Bond’s reentry on the ground that the espionage business “is a young man’s game,” 007 is back inside MI6.

From then on, it’s quickly off to Shanghai, Macau, a deserted Japanese island before heading off to the fiery finale in Scotland via London.

Although Daniel Craig is in top form as Bond, alas, he lacks the mischievous glint in Sean Connery’s eyes.

That’s my one, bitter complaint. Perhaps, it’s the script!

A Bond without a hint of some ‘shaken, but not stirred’ mischief could soon get boring.

If you thought Bardem was chilling in No Country for Old Men, wait till you watch Skyfall and hear his defense of vengeance as he explains how Life clung like a disease to him when all he wanted to do was die.

One may go as far as to say that this is a Bond film where the clash is between the ‘villain’ and M with Bond confined to the sidelines.

Judi Dench bites into a mega-sized role of an amoral, deeply flawed M with great aplomb.

Will Judi Dench ever return as M?

Likely not, if we correctly understood Skyfall.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome the talented Ralph Fiennes as the new M.

The two Bond girls, British actress Naomie Harris and French gal Bérénice Lim Marlohe get little room to leave an impression although Marlohe, with her Asian features, did, at least to my lust-filled eyes.

Director Sam Mendes introduces both Bond and his enemy Raoul Silva to the audience in similar fashion – He has them walking from a distance toward us, first a shadow, then a form and finally a larger-than-life presence staring at us.

I had great fun watching Skyfall and so will you schmucks should you care to see this action thriller.

Skyfall is a lovely action film with more than enough soul in it. strongly recommends Skyfall. The movie is playing every city and town across America.

19 Responses to "Skyfall Review – Licensed to Thrill"

  1. araj   November 10, 2012 at 1:46 am

    U liked this movie?!…


    I saw this and thought that the film was pretty lousy….. Responds:

    1. Yes, sweetie, I liked it.

    But as I mentioned in the post Bond runs the risk of becoming just another action hero a la Jason Bourne if he continues on this track.

    Once is tolerable, but twice would be tedium without some ‘extras’ to the Bond action persona.

    2. You write: I saw this and thought that the film was pretty lousy…..

    Lousy, compared to what? Compared to other Bond films? Other action films? Compared to ….?

    3. A good section of the audience at a theatre on the East Coast broke into applause….and compared to our Indian moviegoers Americans are generally a restrained lot.

    I guess it’ll make money, important considering the mega-bucks a Bond movie costs!

  2. boopalanj   November 10, 2012 at 3:27 am

    I felt it a bit dragging at times, although I liked it overall for actions.

    My friend noted – few gadgets this time.

    As far as I could remember, he used only one radio transmitter

    Also the villain and his tactics remind us of Julian Assange (blonde, hacking, Hit list in YouTube).

    I saw few reviewers brought it up too. Responds:

    1. You write: few gadgets this time. As far as I could remember, he used only one radio transmitter


    You forgot the Gun that can be used only by Bond…requires his fingerprints!

    Thanks to that gun gadget given to Bond by Q in the Museum, Bond escapes from the pit in Macau from one of the Casino enemies/Chinese fighters who is eaten by the animal as he’s fidgeting with Bond’s Gun!

    2. You write: Also the villain and his tactics remind us of Julian Assange


    Silva is motivated by Revenge because of M’s betrayal….six agents exchanged for one!

    Assange has different motivations, God knows what they are!

    3. You are entitled to a Complete Refund from the theatre because you slept through the movie! 🙁

    • boopalanj   November 10, 2012 at 4:37 am

      Ha ha.

      I remember the gun which signals green when bond holds it and indicates red in other hands. But gun is a basic thing for an MI6 agent.

      I also remember Q saying “were you expecting an exploding pen? We dont go in for them anymore!”

      But in case you dont remember, the radio transmitter that I referred and the gun you said – are given to bond in the same scene.

      On the Julian Assange part, I explained above what the similarities are. And motivation was not one of them. Do you have a disturbed sleep these days?

      The below links also refer about Assange / wikileaks lightly.

      Take good care of yourself. Thupaki is on its way.

  3. Naveen   November 10, 2012 at 4:21 am

    I watched Skyfall in IMAX.

    Turned out to be a good decision as some of the action scenes were big screen worthy.

    I liked the idea of setting the 3rd act in a time gone by. Old School stuff!

    Making M the center piece was also a good idea and so was the introduction of Moneypenny.

    The BGM was good for a change although it reminded me of the score from The Dark Knight.

    Javier Bardem’s Silva also reminded me of “The Joker” (Do I still have a Batman hangover??). Again, I liked the idea of a eccentric villain instead of the usual terrorist or a rich guy with hidden operations.

    What I didn’t like was the lack of humor and a work-man like Bond, something that was probably deliberately lost in translation to the new bond movies. But. I can’t complain as I like the ruthlessness of Daniel Craig’s Bond.

    Overall, worth the extra bucks for IMAX and a top notch addition to the Bond franchise.

    • araj   November 10, 2012 at 11:21 am

      @ Naveen: “The BGM was good for a change although it reminded me of the score from The Dark Knight. Javier Bardem’s Silva also reminded me of “The Joker” (Do I still have a Batman hangover??…….. ”

      You are not suffering from any hangover nor is the score just ‘reminder’.

      Both are plain copies/inspirations from TDK…..Amazing display of stupidity from Mendes….. Responds:

      Naveen Writes: Javier Bardem’s Silva also reminded me of “The Joker”

      The Joker had far more elan, panache, flair and wit….Bardem’s Silva was not in the same ‘maniacal’ bandwidth.

      Maybe it had to be that way to prevent Bond becoming eclipsed. Much easier to put out a Bond on top always than an edgy villain like the Joker each time.

      • Naveen   November 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm

        Exactly my thought. Javier Bardem’s Silva character had the potential of overshadowing Bond.

        Probably why they restricted the brilliance to just a couple of scenes.

  4. gandhiji   November 10, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Fiennes is only 50, so he will probably be the M for at least 25 more years.

    I don’t remember a bigger name star as a Bond Villain.. but then again, I don’t know the credentials of the villains from the earlier Bond movies.

    The upgraded the Villain big time, but downgraded the Bond girls big time too.. Who are those no-name girls! Maybe that’s why araj is not impressed like Responds:

    You write: Who are those no-name girls!

    Weren’t most Bond girls no-name gals before they became Bond gals?

    Maybe, you meant the downgrade in sex appeal.

    Your link is not working.

    • gandhiji   November 10, 2012 at 11:30 am seems like they changed the no name strategy in the 90s. Sophie marceau, michelle yeoh, teri hatcher, halle berry etc. babe connoisseurs knew about eva green and olga before they became bond girls. Responds:

      My personal preference is for no-name gals with lots of oomph.

      Maybe, I’ll make an exception for my favorite chubby Hollywood babe.

    • gandhiji   November 10, 2012 at 11:38 am Responds:

      Interesting…was not aware of this “mckayla is not impressed” meme.


      • gandhiji   November 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

        I was watching that reaction live (or at least when nbc was delayedly broadcasting it) when it was happening. It was pretty amusing. Responds:

        The audience response was very favorable during my show….included a good round of applause at the end.

        Sold-out shows!

        • gandhiji   November 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

          err.. I was talking about McKayla’s expression during the Olympics.

          Haven’t watched Skyfall yet. Planning to IMAX it, probably with kids..


          OK…When I process comments, I can’t see the context in the admin area. I thought you were talking of audience reactions…like they do with Indian movies…first day, first show.

          Speaking in a McKaylian sense, I’d say McKayla is impressed with Skyfall.

  5. tiramisu   November 10, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Did we even watch the same movie ?

    What have they done to Bond ?
    They have completely changed the genre and personality of Bond.
    Bond drinks beer now !! Maybe it’s like he says in the movie ‘it’s a new world’ !

    With Casino Royale, Bond became more down-to-earth, emotional and showed his weaker side but still was a man of action. With Quantum of Solace he still remained emotional, a bit gritty and very human but preserved his active streak.

    Now, he is a sentimental, emotional, fallible, non-smoking, less philandering, not so sacrilegious, non-chauvinistic and possibly mixed sexual preferences …. almost like one of us (except for the sexual preferences part..can’t speak for all of us !) . It takes a while to sink in.

    I look at this one from two perspectives,
    Action, thriller – lame and times pretty soppy.
    Drama, mystery – pretty good, taut and engaging.

    Now, I go in with expectations of getting a slam-bang action adrenaline rush two hour thrill ride ….. sorely disappointed.
    However I do emerge content with watching a decent drama, thriller that happens to have 007 in it.

    The only piece of action is the opening sequence which has been played out in the trailers.
    All the other action sequences are more like skirmishes by today’s action movie standards.

    So folks, for those of you high on testosterone going in for a rush, beer guzzlin, loud thumpin nightclub hoppin types – you are in for disappointment.
    For the Cialis prospects, wine connoisseurs, single malt drinking, loves to take long walks in the beach types it is going to be a treat.
    For folks in the middle – depends on how your day went… I might guess. Responds:

    1. Speaking of sexual preferences, I liked that “well, first time for everything” encounter between Bond and Silva.

    Don’t know where that’s going in future Bond movies.

    But I for one won’t be surprised to see Bond’s future ‘gal’ turn out to be an exotic Indian Madan instead of the alluring cubana babe Magdallena or the mysterious Russian seductress Ivana. Watch this space. 😉

    Change may not be palatable all round but a break from the status quo is certainly going to be interesting.

    2. Increase in the Action dosage would run the risk of turning these Bond/Bourne films into a meaningless orgy of yahoos firing at each other.

    3. Humor quotient could do with some increase.

    4. The big question I see is, how do you separate the three big action sub-genres – Bond, Bourne, Iron Man – and invest them with enough unique elements to prevent them collapsing/merging into one indistinguishable genre of action.

    Thanks to Robert Downey, I’d say Ironman has a better chance (although I’m tiring of those metallic red suits).

    • Naveen   November 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      I much prefer the new Avatar Daniel Craig avatar of Bond to Roger Moore or Bronson. I am not counting the one off actors.

      Skyfall in particular was probably a homage to 50 years of Bond that’s probably why they shot mostly in England, focused on Bond’s past and went old school for the 3rd act.

      However, the characters remain and get more scope. M continues, Q is added and so is Moneypenny. The movies are less chavunistic and Bond girls don’t waste film time. The stories and gadgets are also more real (although it is hard to define what is real in action movies).

      Sean Connery and Daniel Craig’s versions of Bond are more to my liking. Responds:

      If the Wiki profile of Skyfall is accurate, India was on the list as a location, for the opening Train fight scene!

      Besides Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, I thought Pierce Brosnan was also a decent Bond.

    • Naveen   November 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      Bond has stood the test of time and remains top draw.

      Bourne already collapsed and I doubt if it will be in the same league. Wasn’t the recent Bourne a flop?

      Iron Man 2 was pathetic and this should be in sci-fi / fantasy genre. Responds:

      The Bourne Legacy made money, just not as much as Bourne Ultimatum.

      That’s partly because there was no Bourne and no Matt Damon. Kinda like a Bond movie with no Bond but his CIA pal Felix Leiter in the saddle.

    • haroldkumar   November 11, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      “For the Cialis prospects, wine connoisseurs, single malt drinking, loves to take long walks in
      the beach types it is going to be a treat.” was your evening stroll SI..?! Responds:

      Should I start at the end or the beginning?

  6. Arun s   November 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Watched Skyfall. Cannot say it was great. It was watchable, but perhaps too serious for my liking.And I completely disliked the Background Score.When the signature Bond tune played it was great otherwise the new tune was hell.My favorite Bond movies are Golden Eye and Dr.No. Not just because they just had Bond in it but also you felt drawn into the film. Not this one sadly! Responds:

    Have you seen the James Bond film with the Tamil guy in it?

  7. Arun s   November 10, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Bond with the Tamil guy…don’t know.

    But seen the one with Bean guy (Rowan Atkinson) in a short role- Never Say Never Again I guess. Responds:

    Tamil paiyan Vijay Amritraj had a tiny role in the 1983 Bond film Octopussy!

  8. Arun s   November 10, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Vijay Amritraj is a Hollywood producer now. I guess he started his production company at that time.Cannot remember much about Octopussy except thar some of it was set up in India.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login