And yet if I'm not mistaken, there are perilous emotional peaks and valleys along with all that bloody cheek.
Just how does one get in touch with one's inner assassin — sanctioned or not? Try putting an introspective auteur in the director's chair.
Mendes has a good blueprint to work with. Screenwriters John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have Bond (Craig), M (
There are a lot of dicey moves for M to make after the disaster of a mission in
The splashy gadgets that are a Bond tradition are few. Instead, the film is framed by the high-tech age of satellite communication and cyber bullies. Agent Q (
In a ties-that-bind twist that casts M in an entirely new light, "Skyfall" takes a good deal of time digging into her motives and methods. The decision, a good one, keeps Dench front and center, and M tart and tested, until the bitter end. Mendes proves quite facile in using the acting assets he has at his disposal to maximum effect. Bardem is easy to despise.
But the weight of carrying the film falls to Craig. The good news is that he's even more comfortably settled in than his first two outings — 2006's "Casino Royale" and 2008's "
While many of the ideas are high-tech, much of the action, superbly shot by
Though "Skyfall" begins in Turkey and spends some quality time in Shanghai, most of the anxiety and action is unspooling on the home front — strategic London bombings, a beyond-belief subway ride and a country home in Scotland where everything (metaphorically at least) blows up. Scarier, and more to the point of things we have come to fear most, the bad guys are able to plot a path of destruction with extraordinary precision — and complete anonymity. It's a conspiracy of shadows using social media — a
In "Skyfall," Mendes has given us a thrilling new chapter in a franchise that by all rights should have been gasping for air — which really makes him the hero of this saga. Saving Bond, after all, is rather like saving the day.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking
Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Playing: In general release