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Skyfall (4 stars)

Sam Mendes delivers a belting addition to the Bond franchise

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Skyfall

Fifty years since James Bond first appeared on screens, there was always going to be pressure on Skyfall, the 23rd official 007 movie. Even more so because Daniel Craig’s second outing as the MI6 agent, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, was a let-down. Fortunately producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have delivered a Bond as belting as Adele’s full-throated theme song.

If Bond has always been about the best of British, then it seems apt that Sam Mendes directs and such stalwarts as Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney have been recruited to appear with Craig and Dame Judi Dench, returning for her seventh outing as Bond’s frosty superior M. Smartly written by Bond regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, never before has M been so meshed into a Bond plot, after an MI6 hard-drive is stolen containing names of undercover agents embedded in terrorist organisations.

Craig, joined by newcomer Naomie Harris’ field agent Eve, is entrusted to recover the drive – a trail that takes him from the rooftops of Istanbul via the shimmering skyscrapers of Shanghai to a floating casino in Macau. Lying in wait is Javier Bardem’s blonde-haired cyber terrorist Silva, a thrilling creation up there with the best Bond villains. A shame the same can’t be said for Bérénice Marlohe’s obligatory Bond girl, woefully out of her depth as the mysterious Sévérine.

Bleary-eyed and unfit for duty, this is Craig’s best rendition yet of Bond, the actor finding an emotional heft to the role. It’s also the best-looking Bond to date, courtesy of Roger Deakins’ exemplary cinematography, not least in a Highlands-set section of the film where 007 reconnects with his roots. While Skyfall’s showdown lacks tension, it scarcely matters. From references to past 007 movies to unexpected twists and top-grade action, Mendes’ movie feels like a well-wrapped birthday gift for Bond fans.

General release from Fri 26 Oct.

SKYFALL - Official Trailer

ADELE - Skyfall

Skyfall

  • 4 stars
  • 2012
  • UK
  • 145 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Sam Mendes
  • Written by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe
  • UK release: 26 October 2012

When cyber-terrorists steal an MI6 hard drive, 007 is ordered to recover it. After the let-down of Quantum of Solace, the 23rd official Bond movie is a belter; the script is smart, Craig is better than ever, and Bardem is a thrilling villain. 50 years on from Dr No, it's a well-wrapped birthday present.

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