Skyfall movie review

a return to the classic 007 formula

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th anniversary, Skyfall rewards fans with a classic James Bond film that works as a gritty modern entry and a bridge between old and new.

Skyfall Teaser PosterIt has all the ingredients that make 007 great: exotic locations, character development, beautiful women, a creepy villain, action, exposition, a slow pace, and a full MI6 staff.

For the casual Bond fan, Skyfall is an outstanding action movie with a few plot holes. For the hard-core 007 addicts amongst us, it succeeds on many other levels, borrowing the best elements from some of my favorite older movies while eliminating most of the fluff and camp.

Sam Mendes’ direction is among the most artistic in the series, reviving the old tradition of slow pans to introduce a new location and favoring plot advancement over non-stop action. He also brilliantly uses silhouettes throughout the film, most noticeably in the Shanghai fight between Bond and Patrice and the fiery climax at Skyfall.

Meanwhile, Daniel Craig seems to have perfected his portrayal of 007 with a wink here, a cufflink adjustment there, and a pun or five for good measure. He does a brilliant job of combining the traditional cockiness of Bond with a healthy dose of humility, humanity, and hurt.

Though Silva’s actual scheme was a bit dull and convoluted, it didn’t matter. Skyfall’s real plot is found in the relationships between M, Bond, MI6, and how they all fit into our modern world. The movie is filled with subtext, action, drama, some of the finest acting in the series, and by far my favorite ending.

Out of 007 possible stars, I give Skyfall a…



My Spoiler-Filled & In-Depth Review
Do not continue reading if you haven’t seen Skyfall yet

A Bridge Movie: aka, Oh, Grow Up, 007

Skyfall feels like a bridge movie between my father’s Bond and a new era of 007.

James Bond looking out over England

By the time Die Another Day was released, the Bond movies had lost all touch with reality. Casino Royale stripped that all away, leaving us with only Judi Dench’s M and the Aston Martin DB5 as a common link to the past. Bond was reborn and had no need for Q, Moneypenny, or exploding pens.

That arc continued in the frantic Quantum of Solace; which, despite being a lackluster entry to the series, did advance Daniel Craig’s young Bond. Finally, by the end of Skyfall, Bond has lost every connection to the previous 50 years and is ready to start over.

With Judi Dench and the DB5 gone, 007 is finally ready to walk past the hat rack, greet Miss Moneypenny, open the double-leather door, and have a stoic older man present him with a top secret folder. Throw in a gunbarrel sequence for good measure and James Bond is officially back!

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This 007 Can Hurt & Bleed

A scruffy James Bond in SkyfallWhen The World is Not Enough was released, Pierce Brosnan and company raved about Bond’s humanity and vulnerability. In reality, his fall and injury from the pretitle sequence only played a minor role in the plot and mostly gave 007 an excuse to seduce Dr. Warmflash.

In Skyfall, Bond’s injury and “death” play a major role in the film, as they force a weakened Bond to come to terms with his own physical limitations. It’s only through extreme hubris and sheer determination that 007 pulls himself together enough to face Silva.

Two wonderful examples of this are seeing Bond collapse after his MI6 physical and watching him dangle by one arm beneath a Shanghai elevator.

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Staying Calm

Right from the start, Skyfall has an almost an eerie calmness. Despite the tense atmosphere of a gunfight, motorcycle chase, and fisticuffs on top of a moving train, no one loses their calm. Bond, Eve, and M all manage to keep their voices down: except when M orders Eve to “take the bloody shot.”

This calmness sets the pace for the rest of the film and prevents it from becoming overwhelming in its enormity.

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Silva: Creepy, for Sure, But was he Memorable?

Blofeld! LeChiffre. Scaramanga. Doctor No… and Silva?

Silva makes James Bond uncomfortable during their first encounterWhere does Silva fit into the pantheon of great Bond villains? That’s what I found myself wondering as Javier Bardem walked menacingly – yet calmly – down an aisle of computer servers discussing cannibalistic rats. This calmness continues throughout the entire film, as he always appears eerily amused while giving off a completely creepy vibe.

But does that creepy vibe and a removable set of dentures make up for a convoluted scheme? After two viewings, I’m inclined to say no. We don’t even meet Silva until halfway through the movie and despite leaving a trail of destruction and death, he never really shows us why Severance is so afraid of him.

As for that scheme; let me get this straight…

Silva fan poster from http://film-reel.deviantart.comAll along, Silva planned to have Bond kill Patrice, come to Macau to redeem the chip, seduce Sévérine, come to his island, apprehend him, trap him in the underground MI6, have Q hook his laptop up to the MI6 intranet and break out?

Then he had planned where Bond would chase him, down to the exact time he would arrive in the tube station to receive his police uniform and the precise exit he would flee to before dropping a train on Bond’s head and jumping into a police car?

Assuming all that to be true, the ultimate goal of these years of planning was to what? Oh, right; to walk into one of the most secure buildings in London with a handgun and shoot M in the face. Mmmhmm. Riiight.

…One-Off Thoughts on Silva…

  • Is Silva gay, bisexual, or just messing with Bond?
  • Silva’s island reminded me of the classic “big-set” villain lairs (Blofeld’s volcano, Scaramanga’s island, Drax’s space station, etc).
  • My wife Carrie, who doesn’t share my sense of 007 nostalgia, thought the island was quite pointless.
  • Silva has one of the best first entrances in the series.
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The Bond Girls: One Step Forward & Two Steps Back

Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall In Skyfall, Miss Moneypenny is the Bond Girl. Sure, there’s Sévérine and that unnamed beauty he beds while “enjoying death,” but the only gal I remember is Eve.

Even and Bond’s repartee throughout the film is fantastic and reminds me of countess encounters with Lois Maxwell… a connection that I didn’t properly appreciate until learning who Eve actually was.

However, Moneypenny was never meant to be the Bond Girl: Sévérine was. Which begs the question: “why should we care?” Her scene in the Macau casino is memorable, for sure, but I still didn’t care about her death. Neither did Bond, apparently, as he allowed her to be shot in order to launch his own escape.

…Thinkin’ ’bout Bond Girls…

  • It was badass how Bond basically missed Sévérine on purpose to escape, knowing that Silva would shoot her.
  • Speaking of Sévérine, what was Silva’s original plan for her after leaving Macau? If Bond hadn’t boarded the boat, would she have lived?
  • Although it bothered me before I realized who Eve really was, I’m glad that the film never showed her hooking up with Bond. That way, we can forever wonder if there was a steamy night behind all their future innuendo-filled banter.
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M Steals the Show

Skyfall will forever be remembered as “the one where M dies.”

M and James Bond in Scotland in SkyfallBefore that, Judi Dench did a wonderful job fleshing out the character and really made sure that even a first time Bonder would appreciate the poignancy of her death. Dench also succeeded in portraying M as a motherly figured to Bond, Silva, and the entire MI6.

That said, having every character call her “mum” instead of ma’am seemed to be a bit of overkill.

…Favorite Ma’aments…

  • I absolutely loved M’s poetic eulogy for herself.
  • Is it just me, or did M seem to have a little crush on Kincade.
  • How stupid were M and Kinkaid to use a flashlight outside Skyfall so Silva could easily find them.
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I’m Your New Quartermaster

How do you reinvent the most beloved character in the entire history of James Bond? Apparently, by revisiting a few classic lines of dialogue, joking about an exploding pen, and having classy, fast-moving, and witty banter.

Ben Wishaw and Daniel Craig as Q and James Bond in SkyfallFrom their first encounter in the museum to their radio exchanges after Silva’s escape, Daniel Craig and Ben Whishaw quickly recreate the quintessential relationship between the Bond and Desmond Llewelyn’s Q.

It’s also appropriate that the first gadget Bond receives from Q is the same one he received from Major Boothroyd 50 years ago: a Walther PPK. Personally, the Q scenes have always been my favorite part of any Bond movie and I’m thrilled to see where they go from here.

…‘Q’uestions & Comments…

  • When exactly did Bond have the front machine guns and ejector seat installed in his Aston Martin? Not complaining; just curious.
  • I was downright giddy when Bond said “you must be joking” and when Q asked Bond to bring back all the equipment in good shape. Both of these are exact quotes from previous Bond films.
  • It’s always great to see Q helping Bond in the field. Reminds me of Licence to Kill.
  • “What were you expecting? An exploding pen? We don’t really do that anymore.” CLASSIC!
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Random Skyfall Thoughts & Things I liked:

  • The title sequence is beautiful and also succeeds as a graphical representation of key plot elements.
  • When I first heard Adelle’s theme song on the Internet, I didn’t like it. Then I saw it with the title sequence and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. (that’s a good thing).
  • Some may argue that Bond was sweating during the emotional finale, but as George Lazenby taught us: it’s ok for Bond to cry.
  • The silhouetted fight sequence between Bond and Patrice atop the Shanghai skyscraper may be my favorite fight in the series. It really reminded me of Luke vs Vader in the Empire Strikes Back.
Bond vs Patrice atop a Shanghai skyscraper in Skyfall
  • The pace of Skyfall really gives it an “old-school” feeling
  • I love the approaching vista of the Shanghai skyline and the eerie blue highway and road shots.
  • Skyfall Movie PosterBond’s arrival at the floating casino in Macau may be my favorite “approach” in the whole series.
  • Showing the reflections of Skyfall and Silva’s approaching army in the reflection of the Aston Martin’s side view mirrors was a great directorial touch.
  • Skyfall takes a the simple “information-retrieval” plotline From Russia With Love, the grit and poignancy of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the villain’s backstory aspect of GoldenEye, and adds in the best ending of franchise history.
  • The movie was essentially two movies in one, but both halves really worked for me (unlike Die Another Day).
  • The score was average with a few great moments.
  • Why didn’t Thomas Newman use the Bond theme more?
  • Because I was in Bangkok, I was able to see Skyfall four days before the US release.
  • Bond jumping on top of a Komodo Dragon in Macau reminded me of Roger Moore jumping on a crocodile in Live and Let Die.
  • Gareth Mallory is the new M. Bernard Lee and Robert Brown’s M was named Miles Messervy. Coincidence? I think not.
  • The punny guy in me loved all the one-liners!
  • By far the best 50th anniversary reference was when Silva offered Bond the 50 year old Macau booze. The label even said 1962 on it: the very year that the world was introduced to the cinematic James Bond in Dr. No. The world hasn’t been the same since!

Shop Skyfall


Adelle’s rendition of Skyfall was the first theme song to win an Oscar

First time you can clearly hear a character say the F-word

First time Bond wears a gray suit in the gunbarrel opening

First Bond movie filmed in China

First time Q is younger than Bond

The first Bond film to be shot entirely using digital cinematography

First time two different M’s appear in one film


Daniel Craig performed the stunt of leaping and sliding down the escalator rail himself.

With her big role in Skyfall, Judi Dench’s M becomes the character with the most screentime in the entire series. (except for Bond, of course)

The movie does not feature any American actors or characters

The bottle of alcohol Silva offers Bond on his island says “1962” on its label, which is when Ian Fleming wrote Casino Royale. Skyfall was released in 2012: aka, the 50th anniversary.

The role of Kincade was written with a the hopes of casting Sean Connery.



UnivEx Rating:

October 26, 2012

Bond Actor:
Daniel Craig

Sam Mendes


$150-200 Million

Worldwide Boxoffice:
$1.109 Billion

Running Time:
143 Minutes

Bond’s Kill Count:

Bond’s Conquest Count:
2 — (or 3 … if you count Moneypenny)


Raoul Silva

Self-Employed (though Blofeld took credit for his scheme in SPECTRE)

Carefully plan and execute a complex series of events that ends with Silva killing M. 


Beach Girl, Severine, Eve Moneypenny

M, Gareth Mallory, Kincade, Tanner, Q