By T.M. Powell

The 50th anniversary of James Bond hitting the big screen coincides with the release of Skyfall. Skyfall is the third installment with Daniel Craig as James Bond. The franchise has not exactly been the success movie executives once hoped for. Casino Royale was a strong start to rebuilding 007, but financial problems with MGM and the fact Quantum of Solace was a terrible follow-up slowed the spy’s momentum.

Skyfall begins with a harrowing chase involving motorcycles, cars and trains that doesn’t go as planned for everybody’s favorite MI6 agent. This leads to James leading a quiet drunken life until his former employer comes under attack and Bond must suit up. This section of the first act was a major problem with Skyfall. Seeing a beat down Bond go through training tests both psychical and mental does nothing for the character or the film. We all know 007 is going to get back to his normal self. Why make the audience sit through 40 minutes of meaningless action after such an explosive opening sequence.

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My other problem with Skyfall is the villain does not show up until almost an hour into the film. One of the great parts of all the Bond films are the scene stealing villains. Oddjob, Jaws and Goldfinger are revered by James Bond fans. It doesn’t make sense to wait an hour to introduce the antagonist. Luckily for Skyfall and the audience when Javier Bardem’s Ex-MI6 agent Silva appears, he completely steals the show.

The Academy award-winning Bardem immediately thrusts himself onto the list of greatest Bond villains. He’s an agent of chaos much like the Joker in The Dark Knight and would much rather use technology than his fists. The technology versus man power argument is a recurring theme throughout Skyfall. Bardem chews up the scenes he’s in and proves to be a difficult adversary to Bond and MI6. In my opinion Javier Bardem’s uncanny performance saved the film.

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I would like to see a director bring back some of the popcorn action and gadgets to the now gloomy franchise.  Sam Mendes is a great director, but I’m not sure if he’s right for the 007. Is Mr. Bond allowed to have any fun? Craig’s Bond is gritty, serious and  never cracks a smile. The cinematography in Skyfall was beautiful, but that’s not why I go see a James Bond film.  At times I didn’t know if I was watching Skyfall or beauty shots from Road to Perdition.

In the end Skyfall does right the wrongs from Quantum of Solace, but still can’t seem to get its footing on which direction the franchise wants to go. Fortunately Bardem’s performance is so strong he carries the second half of the film on his back up to the old school western like showdown between him and Mr. Bond. Fans of the 007 franchise may disagree with my opinion, but overall I give SkyFall 2 1/2 potatoes.

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