MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs: Skyfall




SKYFALL (Also Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) (Two Discs) (Three and a Half Stars)

U.K.-U.S.: Sam Mendes, 2012 (MGM)

Skyfall may be a James Bond movie for both the masses and the cognoscenti, but it begins with something as old as The Perils of Pauline — a chase and a battle on a train. In this case, the chase is in Istanbul, through a bazaar, over the streets, up to the roofs and on a speeding train, and it ends with what seems to be the end of Agent 007 himself. Thanks to a decision by his boss M (Judi Dench, at her most regal), Bond — played for the third time by Daniel Craig — is shot and plunged into the drink and into another set of flashy Bond credits, and another catchy Bond pop credits song (this time written and sung by recent Grammy-winner Adele).

He’s not dead of course. Not yet. He’ll be back before long, fighting another sadistic Bond villain (Javier Bardem as the brilliantly nefarious Silva), romancing some stunning Bond girls (including Berenice Marlohe’s sleek Severine), trading cracks with fellow agent and trigger-puller Eva (Naomie Harris), and playing with some new gadgets from a new Q (Ben Whishaw) as well as getting snared in the politics of his M16 secret service employers and combating what seems a campaign to replace M. He’ll never die, it seems, no matter who’s playing him or what the stakes are, or how many times they repeat the old Monty Norman Bond theme.

But Skyfall does have a few surprises and intimations of mortality for us, many of them involving Dench as M, who‘s had her agent files hacked and stolen by the latest super-villain, Silva (Javier Bardem, tops), and is under lots of pressure from her own bad boss, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes, at his most sullen). By the end of the show, which takes place in Scotland (Sean Connery‘s homeland), and involves Bond, M, Silva, Silva’s thugs, and a rustic and feisty gamekeeper named Kincade (Albert Finney, though Connery would have been a good choice here), most of the audience should feel they’ve had at least part of their money’s worth.

They have, Skyfall is easily one of the best Bonds — certainly better than the last outing, the sometimes dreary Quantum of Solace, and better, I think, than the deservedly much-hailed 2006 Craig debut outing, Casino Royale. If you split the movie into its elements, one way of judging the separate Bonds (since they’re all so repetitive), it usually comes out a winner. The villain. (Bardem a snaky delight as Silva.) The action scenes. (That Istanbul express. a London M16 bust-up. A high tech Chinese cliffhanger. And a final showdown on the Scottish moors, that — probably deliberately — suggests the thrills of  Hitchcock’s Scottish-set The 39 Steps gone techno-happy.) And the ending of Skyfall has enough raw emotion for any three average Bonds.

Skyfall is one of the classiest of the Bonds, with one of the classiest companies.. The director is Oscar winner Sam Mendes, usually found in Oscar territory (an American Beauty on the Revolutionary Road to Perdition ), The writers include Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, abetted by the imaginative John Logan (Hugo). The cinematographer is the Coen brothers‘ indispensable eye, Roger Deakins. And the rest of the cast includes Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Helen McCrory, Rory Kinnear and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer (as himself) Like the Harry Potter movies, the Bond series likes to load it up with top Brits and others. Starting with Craig.

Did I like it? Sure. Has it lost some or all of its Ian-Flemingish savoir faire and pizzazz, it’s sense of fun and immaculate violence? Not yet, Any movie with Javier Bardem as a villain (or as a non-villain for that matter), has my vote. And Skyfall is not only a classy production on every level — well-acted, well-written, well-shot –but a rip-roaring action movie too. That puts it in a class with the prime Bonds, like Goldfinger, From Russia with Love, The Spy Who Loved Me and Casino Royale (the 2006 movie, not the entertaining but crazy 1967 version).And it certainly gives Skyfall enough juice to make it both commercially and critically. The movie is nicely sentimental too. It has touching moments, even bringing back the most wondrous of all the Bond gadgets, the Aston-Martin.

So why has Bond lasted so long (50 years and 23 movies)? Why does he kept returning and reviving? Why does he survive everything from Goldfinger’s laser to Silva’s leer? Sean Connery was the best cast 007 — and he hasn’t been Bond (the series Bond that is) since Diamonds are Forever in 1971 (or if you count non-series films, since Never Say Never Again in 1983). No subsequent 007 — not Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and now Craig (very good, but overrated by some) — has ever really replaced Connery, and the series had been missing something essential ever since he left. The sardonic, slightly wicked  Bond humor, a crucial part of the movies after From Russia With Love in 1963, has never really returned in full force, though there are some dry martini jokes in this one. The action is still top-notch, but then most of the Bond imitators and most of the other expensive actioners have high-level action too. So do a lot of big expesive dumb movies that have almost nothing else

What Skyfall does have to offer is a deeper cast, and better acting, and more focus on drama and psychology than the series has often accustomed us to. (That seems to be the new target for longtime producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.) Judi Dench, in particular, gets a fine, deep bow. That’s welcome. So is Bond, no matter how many time he keeps returning. Is the old spy ready to come in from the cold? Or the hot? Or even the luke-warm? Not yet.

No extras.


Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “Wilmington on DVDs: Skyfall”

  1. Motleyconz says:

    Perfectly written!


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon