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Ormond Beach Observer Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 6 years ago

James Bond, resurrected


There’s been a lot of hype about ‘Skyfall’ the past week, and for good reason. This is different kind of Bond movie.


MI6 is in shambles

Its agents’ identities have been stolen, its headquarters destroyed and its top spy isn’t nearly as young as he used to be.

The world created by Director Sam Mendes in “Skyfall” is one that’s gone on without its main character. It’s the Internet Age, and nothing’s as simple as heroes and villains anymore. Common enemies are a thing of the past. Computers are mightier than knuckles and guns.

But Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Revolutionary Road”) believes in Daniel Craig's James Bond — you can tell by the way he joyously follows him running on the roofs of moving trains or fighting in silhouette on top of skyscrapers. He wants to believe that this stuff can save the world — and it will.

Bond’s hobby, he tells us, is resurrection.

It’s not until Javier Bardem, as the bad guy, shows up, though, that that line really starts hitting home.

Bardem is introduced with a monologue about rats and revenge. He’s calm and quirky, but he boils underneath. And Mendes sits back, no close-ups or camera tricks. He lets him boil.

This is when we realize this isn’t just another Bond film.

To me, there’s always something special that happens when directors work outside their usual genre, like when Peter Jackson, who built his name in camp-horror, made “Lord of the Rings;” or when Tim Burton (“Edward Scissorhands”) traded darkness for beauty in “Big Fish.”

Sam Mendes was a theater director. He doesn’t make popcorn flicks, he crafts character studies, like “Jarhead,” a war story about inaction.

So, while “Skyfall” may not be the most fast-paced Bond movie ever, it’s maybe the only one in which 007’s conflict feels truly dire, even philosophical.

If Bond loses this fight, he doesn’t just die. He becomes irrelevant, which is way scarier.

I didn’t grow up on Bond movies and I don’t have the same love for the franchise as some do. But Mendes’ movie is more about an aging hero than a cool-but-empty icon.

It stands on its own but, the same way Bond leads Bardem to his childhood house to have it out on his home turf, it never forgets its roots.

Girls. Cars. Action. And plenty of one-liners.

Except this time, Bond isn’t fighting for Great Britain. He’s fighting for his soul.

Us and them

“Skyfall” (PG 13, 143 minutes)

Director: Sam Mendes

**** (out of 5)

The critics got it right with "Skyfall." If you didn't make it out to opening weekend, consider this your second chance.

Rotten Tomatoes         91% fresh (of 230 critics)

IMDB                          8.1/10 (of 81,365 fans)

Roger Ebert                 ****

Christy Lemire             ****

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