Daniel Craig reappears as James Bond in 'Skyfall' (+trailer)

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Skyfall' features powerful performances by Daniel Craig and actress Judi Dench.

Francois Duhamel/Sony Pictures/AP
Daniel Craig stars as superspy James Bond in 'Skyfall,' his third installment in the part.

The James Bond movie franchise is 50 years old, but judging from the latest entry, “Skyfall,” it’s aged remarkably well. Daniel Craig, in his third outing as 007, has taken over the role in a way that makes it his as distinctively as it was Sean Connery's all those years ago.

This distinction comes with a price. While I recognize that Craig’s nuggety, almost thuggish approach to Bond was perhaps a necessary corrective to the dapper sleekness of Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore, I also regret that much of the playfulness has gone out of the series. Craig’s Bond is a lot closer to Jason Bourne than he is to any of the previous Bonds (although the first two Connery movies, “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love,” were often decidedly “dark”).

Still, even though Craig’s Bond isn’t exactly the wish-fulfillment fantasy that Connery’s was, he’s a more powerful, and powerfully conflicted, screen presence. (By Bond movie standards, he’s practically chaste this time out.) “Skyfall” fills in 007’s back story in psychologically resonant ways. I came out of the movie feeling I’d seen not just an action spy extravaganza but, you know, a "real movie."

The film opens with an elaborate chase through Istanbul that leaves Bond presumably dead. We, of course, know otherwise, but it takes a TV report of a bomb demolishing London’s M16 headquarters to bring him back from a dissolute life of exotic beachside anonymity. M (Judi Dench) has already posted his obituary. Without so much as a double take, she reintegrates him into the spy network that has increasingly come under high-level fire for being antiquated in an era of shadowy, stateless terrorists and cyber warfare. (Q is now a geeky cyber whiz, played by Ben Whishaw, who disdains Bond’s smash-and-grab approach.)

“Skyfall” is essentially a rousing defense of old-school sypmastering as personified by Bond, whose skills have been degraded by his near-death exploits. He must redeem M, under whose watch a hard drive containing the names of NATO agents who have infiltrated global terrorist organizations has fallen into the wrong hands.

Those hands belong to Silva (Javier Bardem), a cyber wacko whose golden hair and toothy smile are malevolence incarnate. Silva has his own history with M. Both he and Bond share a psychological connection to her that is decidedly Freudian.

Director Sam Mendes is best known for the highly overrated “American Beauty,” a far inferior movie to “Skyfall.” With the help of screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, he’s discovered his stride here, a blend of thrills and sabotage and deep-dish emotionalism. The powerful performances by Craig and Dench surely owe a great deal to his indulgences.

I trust it won’t take another four years for the next installment in the series. With all the talk in “Skyfall” about outmoded spy methods and achy agents, I wouldn’t wait too long to once again cash in on Craig. Grade: A- (Rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Daniel Craig reappears as James Bond in 'Skyfall' (+trailer)
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2012/1108/Daniel-Craig-reappears-as-James-Bond-in-Skyfall-trailer
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe