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Still shot from the movie: Skyfall.

Skyfall

Daniel Craig dons the James Bond character for the third time in Skyfall. This time the special agent finds himself questioning his boss M (Judi Dench) when secrets surface of her life before becoming the head of Secret Intelligence Service.

Overall Grade: C
Violence: D+
Sexual Content: C
Language: D+
Drugs/Alcohol: C
Release Date: 07 Nov 2012
Run Time: 143
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

If naysayers still remain about Daniel Craig’s ability to “be” Bond, the actor puts any remaining arguments to rest in Skyfall. This Bond is gritty, tough and totally unflappable in the face of constant danger. Yet he also shows a hint of emotion, of vulnerability and of humor. Nothing emasculating, just enough to make him even more attractive to female viewers, particularly those who don’t mind seeing women treated like objects if Bond is the one doing the handling. 

In the opening scenes, security has been breached at MI6 and a sensitive computer drive with a list of British operatives embedded around the world has been stolen. As Bond and another agent (Eve played by Naomie Harris) close in on the thief, M (Judi Dench) and the rest of her staff at headquarters listen in on the operation. When it sounds as though Bond may lose his train-top struggle with Patrice (Ola Rapace), M orders Eve to shoot, even if it means taking out Bond along with the burglar.

As the high-powered rifle shot knocks Bond off the train and into a river below, it seems the movie might run short. But before long, the recovering (and bare-chested) agent is seen passionately slamming an equally unclothed woman against the wall during a fervid kiss. (Welcome back to the old Bond charm!) When he isn’t in bed, James enjoys drinking competitions at the local, island watering hole—at least until he hears news of an explosion at MI6 headquarters.

Resurrecting himself from apparent death, he returns to England just as M faces a grilling government inquiry into the rash of deaths in her organization. However, the aging director refuses to be pushed into retirement until she sets things right. Thankfully, she finds Bond relaxing in a shadowed corner of her flat when she returns home. She welcomes him with an offish, but apparently endearing, reception before throwing him back into field duty.

Iconic elements of the earlier films run throughout this script with fragments of the franchise’s original score, silhouettes of naked women in the opening credits and the reapperance of the silver Aston Martin DB5. The plot also explores the tension of old vs. new when the seasoned spy is forced to work with a youthful new Q (Ben Whishaw), a bespectacled computer nerd who mildly mocks the antiquated tactics of the veteran operative.

Unfortunately these moments of humor don’t make this script any more family friendly than Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. In the first few minutes of the movie, the body count is already on the rise with several victims lying in pools of their own blood. Characters are mowed down (often shown on screen) without a hint of remorse, including one female character that is beaten, tied up and then used for sport before being killed. Even Bond is bleeding by the time the film hits the first hour mark. But fistfights and flying bullets aren’t the only content issues to arise. Bond receives plenty of sexually suggestive attention, this time from both female and male admirers. And though scenes fade to black before too much is revealed, let’s just say Bond doesn’t practice monogamy. While this action-packed script is well written and for the most part well paced, it stumbles disappointingly in the closing scenes when the final showdown is so drawn out it begins to feel tiresome.

Employing some stunning new stunts, including a roof top motorcycle chase across tile shingles in a Turkish town, Daniel Craig proves himself worthy of the title of 007 on the 50th anniversary of the franchise. But parents still shouldn’t fall into believing this suave agent deserves their family’s attention.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: Numerous characters are shot pointblank and shown lying in a pool of blood. Many others are killed in explosions, fires and vehicle accidents. Characters fire shots on a busy street and drive recklessly through narrow city streets. Car crashes follow. Men fight atop a moving train using chains and other makeshift weapons. Characters race across rooftops on motorcycles. Numerous individuals are shown with bloody injuries. A character is shot, falls from a moving train into the river below and washes over a waterfall before appearing to drown. An assassin shoots a man in the back of the head. A woman is beaten, tied up and used for sport before being killed. A man cuts his own chest open to remove bullet shrapnel. A man falls from the side of a tall building after a struggle. Characters repeatedly engage in fistfights. A man is attacked and apparently killed by an animal. Characters booby-trap an old home. Men throw explosives through the windows of a home causing a massive fire. Characters engage in computer terrorism and threaten the lives of hundreds of commuters. A subway train crashes in an underground tunnel. A man talks about being tortured and shows the resulting facial injuries from attempting to commit suicide. He later attempts to kill himself and his victim with a single bullet shot. A man drowns after falling through the ice while fighting with another character. A man is stabbed in the back.  

Sexual Content: Unclothed characters kiss passionately with limited nudity shown. A couple is shown in bed together. Bond is later shown in the shower with another woman. A character talks about her history in the sex trade. Brief stylized depictions and drawings of naked women are seen. A woman offers to shave a man’s face in a sensual depiction. Women wear revealing evening dresses. A man seductively touches the face, neck and legs of another man while hinting at an invitation for sexual activity.

Language: The script contains one strong sexual expletive along with infrequent scatological slang, some terms of Deity, British slang and brief crude sexual terms.

Alcohol / Drug Use: A female character smokes during an entire scene. Characters drink on numerous occasions, including at a competition in a bar, in social settings, at home and in the office.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

M seems to have no compassion for a wounded agent in the opening scenes of the movie. What kinds of life and death decisions do commanders have to make in these types of situations? Should he have been left to die in exchange for Bond staying on the trail of the thief? What other lives were in danger because of the compromised information? What other human collateral damage is depicted in this movie?

The bad guy in the script seems to have no regard for human life. What would motivate you to work for a man like this? Do you think his thugs have a choice in their employment?

Why does M believe orphans make the best recruits for secret agents?

CNN commentator Wolf Blitzer appears as a newscaster in this movie. Does it discredit journalists’ credibility when they play a celebrity in a movie? Are TV personalities, including reporters, becoming more of celebrities than hardcore newsmen or women?

Bond is forced at times to face the inevitability of his age. What is the alternative? How does this script play on the old vs. new theme? What do both sides of the age gap learn from the other? Although our society seems obsessed with youth, what do older people have to offer? What role does life experience and wisdom play in this script?

Video alternatives

This film marks the seventh time Judi Dench has played the character M. She played the role in both of the pervious movies (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) staring Daniel Craig as James Bond. The complicated world of special operatives is also depicted in the Jason Bourne and the Mission Impossible franchises. Breach recounts the true story of a rouge agent.

Home Video Notes

Home Video Notes: Skyfall

Release Date: 12 February 2013

Skyfall releases to home video with the following extras:

- Commentary by Director Sam Mendes

- Villains – In The Shadows

- Locations – License To Travel

- Music – The Sound of Bond

- The End sequence – The Beginning of the End

- M – Changes

- The Future - New Beginnings

- Skyfall Premiere

- Soundtrack Promotional Spot

- Commentary by Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner

- Behind the Scenes Intro

- Opening Sequence – The Death of Bond

- Title Sequence – Working The Titles

- 007 – The return of James Bond

- Q- Back to Basics

- DB5 – Behind the wheel

- Women – The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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