Daniel Craig returns to portray British secret agent 007 in this 23rd installment in the James Bond movie series. This time, the plot centers around the past of “M,” director of the British secret intelligence agency MI6.
1. Will I like it?
Yes. You are going to the theater to see a James Bond film and that is exactly what you get. Lots of action and fighting sequences bracketed by bits of humor and the amazing Judi Dench as “M.” Daniel Craig’s 007 may not have the 24/7 suave demeanor of Roger Moore or Sean Connery yet, but he’s working on it.
The plot is sound without making you scratch your head or work too hard to understand anyone’s motivations. Skyfall focuses much more on M than any previous film and delves a deeper into Bond’s past.
“If you’re not engaged with the characters, the action is meaningless, however good it is,” says director Sam Mendes. “To me, you have to put the characters in a credible and believable situation – you have to make it almost impossible for them to survive – and then show how they survive. That’s the challenge.”
2. Should I take my kids?
The movie is rated PG-13 for a reason. There is plenty of violence, a few choice sensual scenes, and some heavy drinking. If you allowed them to watch Batman Begins or The Bourne Identity, this falls nicely in that genre. If they are not die-hard Bond fans they will still enjoy the movie, though much of the subtleties will be lost on them.
3. Is it a good date movie?
I had the privilege of watching with my wife and can attest that it is indeed a good date movie. The violence is not gratuitous while the humor and humanity make it engaging on an emotional level that works well on a date night.
“We wanted to really mine the relationship between Bond and M, because it is the most significant relationship he has in his life,” says producer Barbara Broccoli. “M is the only person who represents authority to him. You have two extraordinary actors, and we just thought – let’s go all the way. It’s worked extremely well. It’s a very emotional story.”
Feel free to ditch the kids and go enjoy a Bond flick without them!
4. Where does this fall in the Bond timeline?
Much like The Doctor, James Bond exists outside of normal spacetime. Although the film has continuity with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, it could easily be watched without seeing these newer Bond flicks and blends in with the existing movies quite well.
This is the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise (starting with Dr. No in October 1961) and there are some references to the history of the characters sprinkled throughout the movie.
5. How are the gadgets? Is the tech good?
Much like Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Skyfall was light on tech. Don’t expect to see a vast array of crazy gizmos and unrealistic gadgets like a high-powered laser beam from an Omega wristwatch (I’m looking at you, Pierce Brosnan). Although the movie is very much set in modern times, Daniel Craig’s Bond prefers old-fashioned guns and fists over the complex toys that were pervasive in the ’90s movies.
6. And the car?
No submersible Lotus or invisible Aston Martin V12 Vanquish in this movie! In another nod to the past, the ’60s era Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger makes a spectacular return in Skyfall. I won’t spoil why the car is used or what ‘upgrades’ this version includes.
Writer John Logan puts it best: “It is Bond’s essential car and in a movie about reorienting Bond to his past and to his future, we just had to use it – beyond the fact it’s completely cool.”
7. When can I take a bathroom break?
The title sequence and scenes just following are pretty standard. Nothing here you really need to know or see. (This is especially true if you want to shield anyone from sensuous feminine curves on the screen). If you get to the theater late, go in for the opening and leave when the Adele song starts playing. (You can hear it here if you miss it!)
There is another quick run-out point when M arrives home and again when Bond leaves the casino. They are post-action scenes filled with nice dialogue and interpersonal character development, but nothing critical to understanding the movie.
8. Good Bond movie or GREAT Bond movie?
I really like Skyfall and want to tell you I love this movie. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect well with the villain or the damsel in distress. They just didn’t seem deep enough to be onscreen next to M and Bond. That said, the movie as a whole was great and very enjoyable. I expect it will do well in the theaters and be mid-to-high in the general Bond rankings.
Note: I prefer the classic, slightly cheesier Bond found in Octopussy or Moonraker. While this was definitely a different movie type than those films, I did like it a lot!
9. Will I want to own it?
YES. There were several little “Easter eggs” we picked up while watching the film, ensuring that there are many more we missed. Being released on the 50th anniversary of the franchise was not lost on the filmmakers. While obvious continuity and tie-ins to the the other movies are sitting out for everyone to see, there are still a few sleek references that only Bond aficionados are likely to notice.
10. Do I need to pay to see it in IMAX?
I saw Skyfall in a regular theater, sitting in the back row (remember that “date” question?), and I still got the whole movie. The beautiful scenery and massive panoramas would be nice on a gigantic screen, but I didn’t see anything that would make me want to pay to see it in IMAX.
Full disclosure: I was provided two free press passes to preview Skyfall.