Entertainment

Bond gets a fresh look for his 50th year

Daniel Craig in a scene from the movie Skyfall.
Daniel Craig in a scene from the movie Skyfall. Francois Duhamel - Sony Pictures Australia

"WERE you expecting an exploding pen? We don't really go in for that any more," says MI6 quartermaster Q to James Bond, as he presents him with a basic field kit - a gun and a radio transmitter.

Skyfall is the third in the relaunched series of back-to-basics Bond, stripping away the flashier absurdities of old.

I didn't much care for the new approach in 2006's reboot episode, Casino Royale, which struck me as joyless and brutish.

But Skyfall, which sees the series entrusted to the prestigious hands of Sam Mendes, puts fire back into the old formula.

It takes the 007 legacy seriously, and gives us all the quintessential ingredients, without the coy self-mockery that dogged the series at its weakest.

Here's an intelligent, narratively propulsive Bond, the freshest, most entertaining episode in ages.

Even before we've reached Daniel Kleinman's swimmy fever-dream take on the opening titles, Skyfall has already crammed more into one pre-credit sequence than most action movies achieve in two hours.

The intrigue this time revolves around a mysterious enemy who's personally targeting secret service head M (Judi Dench). But we don't meet this nemesis for a while.

First, we're treated to a terrific sequence in a Shanghai tower block, vividly coloured laser projections flickering on the glass walls, in a chicly modern showpiece shot with exuberant chromatic gusto by Roger Deakins.

Then comes an update on something more familiar, as the old dicky bow is dusted down for a visit to a Macau gambling den where Bond tangles with Chinese heavies, Komodo dragons and Berenice Marlohe's femme fatale, Severine - cue a line that could have come from the back pages of Sean Connery's or even George Lazenby's chat-up books: "Only a certain kind of woman wears a backless dress with a Beretta strapped to her thigh."

Only after all this does the film play its trump card, Javier Bardem's villain Raoul Silva. First seen in his lair on a deserted island, he makes his entrance slowly, telling a story about radical pest control - an eccentric monologue that is Skyfall's answer to Harry Lime's cuckoo-clock speech in The Third Man.

Bardem's Silva is magnificently unnerving - a pallid, sexually equivocal, purringly feline presence who could almost be the result of an experiment to clone a human from one of Blofeld's cats.

There's a motive to Silva's malevolence: he's a former operative of M who feels she betrayed him.

He's a Miltonic fallen angel out to get even with a maternal God.

The character grows richer and stranger as the film develops - by the time he's led Bond on a chase through the London Underground, he's taken on touches of Hannibal Lecter and the Joker. Lapping up the role like double cream, Bardem makes one of the series' classiest and creepiest fiends.

He could well have eclipsed a marvellous Bond.

But Daniel Craig's steely presence has deepened, and you feel he's really in command in his third outing.

He's less cold-bloodedly muscular than in Casino Royale, his taciturnity now genuinely suggesting that 007 has a turbulent emotional life, but little inclination to talk about it.

Scripted by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, Skyfall skates closer to psychoanalysing Bond than any other episode - "unresolved childhood trauma" is diagnosed - but the film wisely steers clear of getting all self-help about it.

What emerges most sharply is Bond's relation to authority, and particularly to M.

Dench makes the character variously sympathetic and honourable, yet also cold-blooded and manipulative, a fearsome, castrating mother.

Like Craig, Dench takes the less-is-more approach.

Everything goes on behind her clipped, imperious Whitehall diction and mask-like features, and by the time she movingly recites Tennyson, she has brought genuine nuance to a character with a single letter for a name.

Most of all, Mendes's breezily, imaginatively directed film shows faith in the thrill of the real - not the weightless dazzle of CGI but the feeling of actual objects (bikes, cars, Tube trains) crashing and colliding in a solid world.

More than any other major movie property, the Bond series has always been predicated on the idea of value for money, and Skyfall fulfils its brief - a real show, executed with wit, colour and panache.

You won't miss the exploding pens for a minute.

Topics:  bond james bond james bond movie skyfall



SPER: Govt cracking down on Ipswich's $40M debt

Stock image of cash for better business.

New technology will see "debts collected faster".

Search on after couple kidnapped, locked in container

Police generic, crime scene.  Photo Tessa Mapstone / South Burnett Times

Police call interpreter for probe into kidnapping claim

Suburban shooting may have been mistaken identity: Police

NSW police generic Handcuffs arrest. 07 October 2016

Police puzzled over motive for attack

Local Partners

Gatton family claims game show success

A GATTON family walked away with more than $11,000 after an exciting three-night run on game show Family Feud.


9 things to do this weekend

IT'S ON: Help raise funds for cancer research this weekend at the Ipswich Turf Club. The Shearer Tackles Cancer pig races will still be conducted in the Beer Garden from 12pm.

From music and markets to hiking and swimming, Ipswich has it all

Six things to do this weekend

Enjoy a visit with Thomas and Friends at The Workshops Railway

Check out what's on in and around Ipswich.

Your guide to a great night out

The Village Festival in August featured Aussie music icons Mark Seymour and James Reyne.

Check out some live music in Ipswich this weekend

REVIEW: Undressed is more than titilating entertainment

Nathan and Tahlia meet for the first time on the TV series Undressed.

'DIVERSE' dating show goes more than skin deep.

Will there be a Game of Thrones spin-off?

Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage in a scene from season six episode 10 of Game of Thrones.

HBO’S original programming president has teased fans.

Ed Sheeran's intimate gigs down under

Singer Ed Sheeran

CHART-topper playing invite-only shows in Australia next month.

Eddie McGuire's scandal-free focus and new-look Hot Seat

Eddie McGuire hosts the new Millionaire Hot Seat Super Game.

HOST wants out of the hot seat himself to focus on game show revamp.

Embattled Amber Sherlock back on TV after leaked video

Amber Sherlock seems to have brushed off the leaked video

Read Kim Kardashian's terrifying statement on robbery

“The individual with ski goggles rips out my BlackBerry phone.”

WARNING: Builders, clean up "unsightly sites"

Councillor Ireland at a messy building site.

Failure to do so could see builders slapped with fines.

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

What a year 2016 proved to be

Entrance Island, Birtinya

Get the inside info from the agents themselves

REVEALED: What Coast wants in an international airport

Sunshine Coast business people share their views on what's needed

Time for a cool change

43 Eckersley Ave, Buderim.

Family home goes to the auction floor

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!