Monday, November 25, 2013

Skyfall (2012) ****

Whenever a new actor is chosen to play James Bond, there’s always a huge amount of discussion among fans about whether or not it’s a good choice.  You could fill a book just with all the online rants about the fact that Daniel Craig shouldn’t play Bond because he has BLOND HAIR!  I think that at this point Craig has laid to rest any doubts.  What this whole argument ignores, however, is that the main determinant of whether a Bond movie will be fun or forgettable is the VILLAIN.  “Quantum of Solace” is widely considered one of the less successful Bond efforts, but Craig was just fine in it.  The villain, though, was just another oily, vaguely evil businessman of the type they have been throwing into forgettable Bond films for years.
What the franchise has been needing is another villain as charismatic as Goldfinger, and they have found him in Javier Bardem’s Silva.  Silva is smart, funny, brutal, and possibly bisexual.  He is also driven not by the usual lust for power or money, but by revenge.  One thing that makes this villain memorable is the personal nature of his mission.  It turns out Silva is a former agent with a grudge against M (Judy Dench).  He lures Bond and M into an elaborate trap, and our heroes have to get creative to get ahead of the evil genius.  The chase ultimately leads to Skyfall, the country estate where Bond grew up, and we get treated to some interesting Bond background.
Daniel Craig and Judy Dench are as cool as ever in their respective roles, but it is Javier Bardem who makes the movie.  From demonstrating how to win a game of “William Tell,” to helicoptering into battle blaring John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom,” Silva reminds us that the greatest thing in a great Bond film is, and always will be, a great villain.

4 stars out of 5

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