“007” is back with a vengeance. And what begins the 50th Anniversary edition needs to be mentioned first. There I sat, an avid fan of the James Bond films since I was a boy watching Sean Connery as the elegant and suave James Bond. The lights went out as the last of the trailers ended. Then suddenly in an unfocused almost 3D effect an eye appears then a roar is heard and lo’ and behold the MGM lion appears regally within the Classic MGM Studios logo. And if that’s not enough, it’s followed by the traditional Columbia Studios logo. I can’t remember an MGM logo on a film of such magnitude in recent years and am thrilled that the lion roars again along with the light of Lady Liberty to illuminate the latest installment of the “007” franchise.
And what an opening sequence begins the film! From the motorcycle chase on the roof tops of Istanbul to a fight sequence atop an Orient Express like train the exhilarating rough and tumble life threatening explosion of action which involves, of all things, a ditch digging crane on a flatbed railroad car you will be stunned and drawn into the film. But I’ll not spoil it for you. Let me just say that the opening scenes flow flawlessly into the credits and is actually connected to the plot of the story which evolves. So off to London we go. There, “M” majestically played by Judi Dench is dealing with the advent of modern espionage techniques and a questioning governmental committee investigating whether MI6 and “ergo” James Bond type agents are relevant in the 21st Century.
Amongst that crew at MI6 is the character of Gareth Mallory played with that British style of grace by Ralph Fiennes and a new “Q” portrayed by a young looking actor (Ben Whishaw). The “Q” character brings even more of a contrast to the base plot’s questioning of an aging MI6 needing to be modernized.
Daniel Craig once again delivers a controlled Bond ever keeping his emotions invisible. His is a manly and dashing characterization of the aging “007.” Even allowing a touch of gray to be revealed in his facial hair, that contrast of old and new is brought to the forefront. But most striking for me was the revelation of his early childhood years which made him the man James Bond is. That background is presented by the childhood caretaker of Bond, Kincade, which is played by the legendary actor Albert Finney. The other is the development of a relationship between Bond and “M” and the introduction of Eve beautifully acted by Naomie Harris (with a bit of a surprise as well).
There is the villain, of course, and what a villain this Mr. Silva is! Played in a campy yet horrific manner by Javier Bardem we see an obssesed derranged yet genius of a person set on revenge. Avid aficionados of the James Bond character will be stunned in a sequence which makes MSNBC’s news show host, Chris Matthew’s remark as to how his leg tingled when meeting President Obama, an antithesis to what happens in that scene which brings Silva and “007” face to face for the first time.
With tantalizing images of London, Scotland, Turkey and Shanghai to action sequences which are breathtaking, those who crave for “007” in Her Majesty’s Service will not be disappointed. Except for one area and that is that very subject of being in the Queen’s service. Who can forget that terrific scene between Daniel Craig playing James Bond and the real Queen, Her Majesty Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games? Certainly people like me, felt that having no noteworthy mention of Her Majesty was a singular flaw in this new film based on Ian Fleming’s stories. Therefore, I can only assign a grade of A- to “Skyfall.”


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