James Bond is back with "Skyfall," the 23rd installment in his legendary film series, with Daniel Craig once again as 007 and Javier Bardem as the villain. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following review.
The 007 film franchise turns 50 years old this year and checks in with its 23rd movie in the series. Daniel Craig is back for his third stint as James Bond, called "Skyfall."
It might sound all too familiar, but in terms of its tone, this a more serious Bond film than many of the previous entries. In fact, it takes itself too seriously at times. For the most part, "Skyfall" is devoid of any of the light humor and double entendres that have become such a staple of this franchise.
There's really no Bond girl on board, in the traditional sense, and most of the movie centers around the relationship that 007 has with M, played again here by Judi Dench, who's morphed into a tough-as-nails mommy figure to the secret agents. The movie has psychological undertones. Both Bond and especially the villain, played by Javier Bardem, are seemingly motivated by M's actions.
Bardem's performance is one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie. He camps it up, and seems to be having lots of fun playing this ex-agent lunatic, now out for revenge.
The movie is not without its other joys. The opening sequence is exciting and for the first 40 minutes or so, it's entertaining. But at close to two-and-an-half hours, it's way too long. How many car chases can you really endure?
There's also a visit to Bond's childhood home, named Skyfall, a huge barren castle that looks like Hogwarts. There's even a Harry Potteresque caretaker inside, played by Albert Finney.
"American Beauty" director Sam Mendes is at the helm and Ralph Fiennes co-stars. The cinematography is top-notch. I liked the geeky new Q, as well as the exotic locales.
And Craig, as expected, is good. But his character this time is supposed to be older and out-of-step. He's not the secret agent he once was, unable to really shoot straight and he's weather-worn.
It's not really what I want from a 007 film. It has its moments, some of the action scenes are well-shot, and it's not as bad as the last entry, "Quantum Of Solace." But it's no "Casino Royale," which was easily one of the best in the series.
Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 2.5 Apples