Friday, November 9, 2012

Wow, how times flies! One evening turned into another. Because it's Friday, I am going to reverse the order of my promised reviews.

Let's start with Skyfall.

No beating around the bush: the best action film of the year. Yes, really.

But it's not just an action movie. Daniel Craig as James Bond has made the role his own with this, his third, installment. He is simply fantastic in it. He's manly, flawed (!), strong, tender, suave, funny, loyal, and vulnerable. What more can you ask for in a movie hero?
From the exhilarating opening scenes, Bond gets the adrenalin pumping!

What's new here? Bond revisits his past, revealing more about the man than has ever been shown before. We understand him so much better. And love him more.

Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes brings a relentless pace and, along with his cinematographer, Roger Deakins, breath-taking new locales. There's eye candy to spare, be it the rugged hills of Scotland or the neon beauty of Singapore, or the stunning beauty of leading ladies Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe.

The acting is a cut above many films and probably all the previous Bonds. 

The story is simple: As Bond rises from the "dead," having been shot in the long, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat opening, he reluctantly returns as 007 when MI6 comes under attack. Bond's loyalty to M (once again the magnificent Judi Dench) is tested as her past comes back to haunt her (and she's pretty ruthless at the beginning of this), and he knows he must hunt down and destroy the threat, seemingly from within. It seems that when he was "killed," he let the bad guys get their hands on a vital list of secret agents, an action he died trying to prevent, M is blamed, and is being forced to retire.

There are many red herrings, but since you probably already know that a bizarre-looking Javier Bardem is the chief villain, they may or may not pan out.

The outstanding cast also includes French actress Berenice Marlohe as Severine, English beauty Naomie Harris as field agent Eve, Ben Whishaw as Q, Ralph Fiennes as government agent Gareth Mallory, and Albert Finney (I won't say who he plays ... it's more fun for you to figure that out).

This movie could easily stand alone as a great spy movie. But it is very much a Bond film, thanks especially to all of the retro references (the audience silently – or not-so-silently – speaks the lines that are left unspoken). The old "Bond" music is played more often than it has in the past several movies, and at just the right times.

The gadgets are more subtle, but just as much fun. For aficionados, it's a lot of fun anticipating their use. 

The action is spectacular and inventive. A long motorcycle chase over impossible terrain gets the heart pumping. An underground scene is magnificent. The action scene in Singapore is eye-popping. Even the routine gun-play is both scary and fun. The almost obligatory casino scene is very different from all the others. And while all Bond movies are over-the-top, this one seems more grounded than the others.

Dench and Finney are marvelous, as is Naomie Harris, who combines beauty, charm, humor and a lot of grit into the complete package (just wait until you find out who she is!).

So many memorable moments in the 2 hour and 20 minute show. And it is bookended by the beautiful theme song co-written and sung by Adele, and the iconic Bond camera lens pose.

A must-see on so many levels.

Don't let this one get away. My husband, who has not been a fan of Craig as Bond, was completely won over and insists on seeing it again! I didn't need much convincing but it made me an even bigger fan than ever. There might even be some Oscar-buzz here, deservedly so.

It's rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking (!). But aside from the violence, it's pretty tame compared to, say, Flight (which is rated R).

Four Reels for this terrific movie!

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