Skyfall

Released:  2012

Cast:  Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Lim Marlohe, Albert Finney, Judi Dench

Oscar Wins:  Best Original Song (“Skyfall” by Adele Adkins, Paul Epworth), Best Sound Editing (Per Halberg, Karen Baker Landers)

Oscar Nominations:  Best Original Score (Thomas Newman), Best Sound Mixing (Stuart Wilson, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell), Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins)

SUMMARY:  In Istanbul, Turkey, MI6 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) and an unidentified female are chasing a mercenary who has stolen a list of all the undercover MI6 agents in terrorist organizations.  After being shot in the shoulder, Bond follows the man onto the top of a train, where the two engage in hand-to-hand combat.  Meanwhile, the female agent has been following in a truck, and has positioned herself on a ridge to take a long-range shot on the mercenary.  Due to the fighting between the two men, she does not have a clear shot, but M (Judi Dench), the head of MI6, orders her to take the shot anyway; the agent obeys, and hits Bond instead.  He falls off the train and into the river below, where he disappears and is presumed dead.  After this incident (the agents did not recover the list), M is pressured to retire, particularly by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.  She also faces an inquiry into the decisions regarding the list’s theft and its aftermath.  While she is out one day, MI6’s computers are hacked, and M receives a personal message telling her to think on her sins.  Moments later, the building housing MI6 is blown up.  MI6 relocates to an underground facility that was once part of Churchill’s bunker.  Meanwhile, Bond, who has been living on a remote island after surviving the fall from the train, hears about the explosion on the news, and returns to London.  He is put through a variety of tests, both physical and psychological, before being cleared to return to work.  To help identify the man who stole the list, Bond takes shrapnel from his shoulder wound and has it analyzed:  through this, MI6 learns that the man’s name is Patrice, and he is currently in Shanghai for an assassination.  Bond is immediately sent to Shanghai to find him, find out who he works for, get the list, and kill Patrice.  After arriving in Shanghai, Bond finds Patrice just as he completes the planned assassination.  The two then attack each other, and eventually end up on a ledge, with Bond holding a dangling Patrice.  Before Bond can get the necessary information, their grasp gives out, and Patrice falls to his death.  However, when he looks through Patrice’s equipment, Bond finds a chip to a casino in Macau.

At the casino, Bond encounters Severine, whom he knows helped in the assassination in Shanghai.  She agrees to take him to her employer, provided that he survive the imminent attack from her bodyguards.  After he does this, the two take a yacht to an abandoned island, where Bond is introduced to Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem).  Silva was once a top MI6 agent, but has turned to cyberterrorism with the intent of killing M.  However, Bond has alerted the authorities to his location, and British agents swoop in and take Silva prisoner.  Back in MI6 headquarters, quartermaster and tech whiz Q begins trying to decrypt Silva’s laptop, but it is set up so that when someone tries to do this, it instead accesses their system.  Thus, Silva’s programs take over the MI6 system, and he manages to escape.  Bond then realizes that everything, including his capture, was an elaborate plan by Silva to get himself close enough to kill M.  M later reveals that as an agent, Silva had begun playing both sides of the fence; when he was captured, she made no attempt to rescue him, saving the lives of several other agents in the process.  As such, Silva is incredibly resentful of M, and wants her to experience the torture he went through.  After escaping, Silva heads to the inquiry into the list theft, where he launches an attack on M.  With the help of the same female agent, and Gareth Mallory, Bond manages to get M out safely, but decides that she is no longer safe in London.  He takes personal responsibility for her well-being, and drives her to the house where he grew up (Bond was orphaned as a child), called Skyfall.  He also tells Q to leave a trail for Silva to follow.  When Bond and M get to Skyfall, they find that the old gamekeeper, Kincade (Albert Finney), is still there, and that he plans to join them in fighting off Silva and his men.  The three booby-trap the house, then wait for the arrival.  That night, a group of men show up in a car, but Bond, M and Kincade manage to repel them, although M is wounded in the attack.  Silva then arrives with an armed helicopter, and Bond sends M and Kincade out through a secret tunnel, telling them to go to the nearby chapel.  He then blows up the entire house before using the same tunnel to escape.  The huge explosion kills most of the remaining men, and wrecks the helicopter.  Unfortunately, Silva is still alive, and heads for the chapel.  He gets there before Bond, and takes M prisoner.  Putting his own head next to hers, and a gun in her hand, he begs her to pull the trigger and kill them both.  Just then, Bond arrives and kills Silva with a knife to the back.  However, he is too late to save M, who dies from her gunshot wound.  Bond returns to London, where Gareth Mallory has taken over as the new M.  The unidentified female agent has accepted the role of his secretary, and finally introduces herself to Bond as Eve Moneypenny.

MY TAKE:  As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge James Bond fan.  Maybe this is because of my gender.  In general, I think he’s pretty lousy at his job.  He tells virtually everybody his real name, and routinely gets his ass kicked by the bad guys.  He also gets distracted by anything female that walks past him.  Not very impressive for an elite secret agent.  However, I really did enjoy this movie, more so than any other of the (admittedly few) Bond movies I’ve seen.  I like Daniel Craig as Bond, because he’s tough and gritty, without being smug or too charming.  He seems more like a realistic character.  It’s a very modern plot, because Silva uses an incredibly powerful computer network to facilitate his crimes, but it’s not so techy that you can’t understand it.  It also has that race-against-time feeling, because Silva is one step ahead of MI6 for most of the movie.  My favorite part, aside from the big explosion when Bond blows up Skyfall, is the relationship between Bond and M.  At first, it seems like they don’t like each other, but as time passes, you realize that they have an affectionate relationship — they just show it by picking and nagging at each other.  At the end, as M is dying, you see that they really do care deeply for each other; I would guess that M was sort of a parental figure for the orphaned Bond.  It was sad that she died, but I loved all the one-liners and insults that they threw at each other.

RATING:  Awesome.

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