Review: In ‘Skyfall’, 007 newbie discovers what makes a good Bond flick

Tense scene between Bond and his new villain buddy played by Javier Bardem.

Skyfall (2 hours, 23 minutes): I’d make a terrible spy. Why? Under no interrogation pressure at all, I made a bold confession recently. I admitted that, after decades on this planet, I’d never seen a James Bond movie in its entirety.

Oh, I’d seen snippets on TV, maybe five to 10 minutes. I’d wait on Bond to say his signature “Bond … James Bond,” before I’d resume channel surfing. And I never set foot in a theater to see a Bond movie.

Why so blasé toward Bond? Let me count the reasons:

  • Bond being British, I feared having to listen to nothing but squawky, Cockney accents.
  • Assuming that it was a series and a few Bond movies had already been out before I became a movie fan, I didn’t want to jump right in.
  • Too much was made of the Bond girls, none of whom were my idea of major babes.
  • Growing up in the Cold War era, what with real-life spy satellites and double agents all over the news, I was tired of spy drama.
  • I preferred spy parody movies about super-cool master agent Derek Flint.
  • The titles Octopussy and GoldenEye made me uncomfortable.

But I started rethinking the whole spy movie genre when Austin Powers came out. With Dr. Evil, I realized that the fun starts with the villain. Action movies are only as good as their villains.

But it wasn’t a good time for me to be interested in 007. While Austin Powers gained my attention, the Bond series was trotting out Pierce Brosnan, who didn’t strike me as a credible super spy. And his villains were meh. There was no campy Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the inspiration for Dr. Evil. I likes my villains campy (my favorite: Odd Job, or as Austin Power’s version called him, Random Task).

So, when Daniel Craig was called up to be the next 007, I made a mental note: Let him get a couple of movies under his belt and let’s see whether he can impress me. Maybe he’ll run into an awesome villain.

Well, the buzz and the trailers sold me, especially when Javier Bardem was cast as the villain. Bardem was creepy scary in No Country For Old Men. Even the producers admitted they were trying to scare up a new generation of fans. That was my opening.

So, my wife and I gave Skyfall a try and we’re glad we did. The action was solid. Bardem was cool, not Derek Flint cool, but close.

Will I go back to see Bond movies from the past 50 years? Doubtful. That’s a big investment of time.

For now, I’m part of a new generation of Bond fans. At least until Austin Powers or Derek Flint steals back my attention.

THE PLOT: As an MI6 agent, Bond must recover a computer hard drive from a murdered fellow agent. The drive contains details of agents embedded in terrorist organizations. Bond, who gets into the usual fistfight on the roof of a moving train, is accidentally shot in the chase, falls hundreds of feet into a river, floats away and awakens in some paradise that looks like Tahiti. He’s content throwing back shots with the locals, but at his favorite tiki bar, Bond soon learns that the world is going to hell in a handbasket without him. He rolls his eyes and throws back another shot. From there, you’ve got an artsy-fartsy fight in front of Shanghai lights, Komodo dragons, Bond girl Sévérine, lots of hero-villain dialogue, Dr. Who-looking computer hacker, Bond car, yammering spy boss Q, subway crashes, shootouts, crashed helicopters, rooftop solace.

FOR KIDS: Absolutely. You don’t have to worry about a Goldfinger-like Bond girl. There’s plenty of explosions and chase scenes.

BEST TIME FOR A BATHROOM BREAK OR REFILL: When Q says to Bond, “Were you expecting an exploding pen?” Q is the Dr. Who-looking agent brought in for the nerd demographic.

DATE MOVIE? Sure. Plenty of eye candy for both genders. Send her out for popcorn refills during the action scenes. Get the soda refill during the kissy-face scenes.

PAST REVIEWS: Lawless | The Possession | The Hunger Games | The Campaign | Total Recall | Up | Slumdog Millionaire | Star Trek | The Day the Earth Stood Still | The Wrestler | Inglourious Basterds | Dark Knight Arises | The Green Hornet | Watchmen | Avatar | The Social Network | Battle: LA | The Dark Knight | Savages | Piranha 3D | Rise of the Planet of the Apes | The Amazing Spider-Man


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