Skyfall Movie Review
That's not to say the action is lacklustre. The opening sequence in Istanbul is a riotous chase through the city streets, across the rooftops and onto a train rocketing through a mountainous landscape. At the end of this, Bond (Craig) is presumed dead while the baddie gets away with a list of Western spies. As he starts releasing names publicly, things get difficult for MI6 boss M (Dench), who is pressured to resign by a government minister (Fiennes). So when Bond returns, M puts him on the case, sending him to Shanghai, where he stalks a mysterious woman (Marlohe) to Macau and meets the camp villain Silva (Bardem). Back in Britain, Silva leads Bond and M on a nasty cat-and-mouse chase that ends up at Skyfall, Bond's ancestral home in the Highlands.
Unlike the usual Bond baddie, Silva isn't remotely interested in global domination or incredible wealth: he has a very personal score to settle, which means that there's no ticking time-bomb underneath the action. In other words, Bond is fighting to save his life, not the planet. Which makes the film feel oddly smaller than we expect. On the other hand, this also allows the filmmakers and actors to develop the relationships more intriguingly than usual. Most notable is the close connection between Bond and M, played with with edgy subtlety by Craig and Dench while Bardem steals every scene with his witty innuendo.
Other characters are strong as well, including Harris as Bond's spy colleague, Whishaw as the clever gadget-geek Q, and an almost unrecognisable Finney as Bond's oldest friend. And Marlohe stirs in the only hint of sex and mystery. Each adds life and energy to the film, as does a continual stream of references to 50 years of Bond movies. Some of these are subtle (a 1962 Scotch) while others get a laugh (that iconic Aston Martin DB5). And along the way, Mendes laces the personal drama with political intrigue and some spectacularly staged action scenes. It's consistently entertaining, even if it's dark and thoughtful rather than exhilarating and fun.