Word is Bond

“If that guy doesn’t stop making snide comments under his breath, I’m going to stick this Walther straight up his bum.”

“If that guy doesn’t stop making snide comments under his breath, I’m going to stick this Walther straight up his bum.”

Rated 4.0

Skyfall is now officially my all-time favorite Bond movie.

Mind you, this is coming from a guy who didn’t really get it when it came to James Bond. I’ve warmed up to him over the years, but I used to hate him. The first time I witnessed Bond in action was as a boy, seeing Sean Connery use a woman’s bikini top to strangle her in Diamonds are Forever.

This act scared the shit out of me, and made me think Bond was some sort of bad guy. (I had a similar child-brain confusion with Robert Shaw’s Quint in Jaws. He was just so mean.)

Then, when I was “coming of age,” so to speak, Bond got real silly with Roger Moore and stuff like Moonraker and Octopussy. I turned my adolescent attention to the likes of Star Wars, Rocky and The Pink Panther movies. It wasn’t until Pierce Brosnan took over the franchise that I started to think the whole enterprise was OK. Then I went back and watched the Sean Connery ones, and realized those were actually a lot of fun. Connery’s Bond was some sort of misogynist, but he wasn’t a total bad guy.

Which brings me to Daniel Craig (after obviously skipping over George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton—hey, I have a limited amount of words for these things). Craig is James Bond to me at this point. He’s made three Bonds in a row that I can tolerate, and Skyfall is all kinds of showstopper.

It has a villain I count as the most memorable since, say, the goofy Jaws guy with the teeth from the Moore era. Javier Bardem plays Silva, a former agent who has a major bug up his ass in regards to M (awesome Judi Dench). His first meeting with a tied-up Bond is perhaps Bond’s best meeting ever with one of his adversaries. Also perhaps the most erotic, which took me a bit by surprise.

Skyfall has stunts and chases that had me fully engaged. When Bond faces off with an assassin atop a moving train crossing over a series of bridges and through tunnels, it amounts to the year’s best action sequence—and that’s before the opening credits, which feature a nice title track delivered by Adele.

This flick comes courtesy of director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) and it’s clear that he has a tremendous amount of love and respect for the icon. While the movie definitely gives us an older, arguably dated Bond when it comes to cyber wars and terrorist plots, it also shows us that a man who is good with a gun and popular with the ladies might win out over megabytes after all.

As for the ladies, there are a few, and they actually don’t register as much as past Bond women. Naomie Harris is on hand as Eve, a fellow agent and sharpshooter. Harris is fine, and she shares an interesting shaving sequence with Bond, but she doesn’t make an indelible impression on the brain. Maybe she should’ve been called Serenity Bottoms, or some other naughty name. Those tend to stick.

Berenice Marlohe plays Severine, another Bond girl outside of the agency with a tough past and even tougher future. She’s fine, but again doesn’t truly register like past Bond ladies.

Mendes mixes some great odes to past Bonds into the action, including a sweet Aston Martin and some funny wordplay. By the time Bond faces off with Silva in the film’s rustic finale, we get a true sense of vintage Bond as much as future Bond.

This dark, brooding and somewhat deep Bond is a Bond I’m more interested in as a moviegoer. No more strangling a girl with a bikini top unless she’s brandishing a broken bottle as a weapon or something.

Bond has evolved over the years, while staying true to some of his origins. In Skyfall, he’s actually at his most mature—and most seriously badass.