Shaken, not deterred

Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

The two most recent installments of the 23-film James Bond series (2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace) established Daniel Craig’s Bond wouldn’t quite fit the mold—he wasn’t tall, dark and handsome, he didn’t have a tuxedo full of fancy gadgets, and most notable of all, he had feelings. And Craig’s continued development of the character well beyond its previous dimensions is at the forefront of Skyfall, the first Bond film directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty).

The film’s opening sequence finds Bond botching an attempt to recover a stolen hard drive containing mega-important information (albeit after another stunningly awesome over-the-top chase scene, which has become something of a signature for the rebooted series). From there it’s all womanizing, day-drinking and swallowing handfuls of prescription medication.

And when a bleary-eyed Bond is put through a series of physical and mental tasks to determine whether he is still fit for service (secret service, that is), we are confronted with a concept entirely foreign—Bond being bad at stuff. His practice shots are off target and he labors through push-ups and chin-ups, all while looking generally disheveled. It’s a genius move, see, because when was the last time we doubted Bond’s spy skills? (Answer: George Lazenby.)

Speaking of genius moves, casting No Country for Old Men baddie Javier Bardem as Bond’s nemesis, Raoul Silva, and Skyfall‘s villain is right up there. Silva is a former MI6 agent and super-hacker with a big grudge against Bond’s boss, M (Judi Dench).

The dialogue between Silva and Bond, particularly in their first encounter, is the most compelling aspect of the film—excluding the scene in which a military helicopter crashes into a Scottish castle. Skyfall is not without its flaws; there are a number of situational mistakes silly enough to rival any B-horror flick, but who cares? Did you see the helicopter crash into that castle?!