It feels like the end of the world.
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.