Bond’s Back

‘Skyfall’ features kinky cyber terrorist and Bond back story

By Lori Hoffman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 14, 2012

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Daniel Craig in 'Skyfall.'

Javier Bardem really knows how to rock a bad haircut as an ultimate villain. In the latest Bond adventure, Skyfall, Bardem plays cyber terrorist Silva, who sports a magnificently awful bleach-blonde dye job and has serious mommy issues when it comes to his hatred for M (Judi Dench). He’s totally deranged, but with enough control to be a worthy opponent for not only James Bond (Daniel Craig) and M, but the entire British secret service.

It has been four years since the last Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, left us wondering if the franchise was running out of steam again. However, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise with the 23rd Bond film, the answer is decidedly no. With a grandiose opening, a spy vs. spy chase sequence through Istanbul, and a thrilling final confrontation at a Scottish castle (the Bond family’s ancestral home as it turns out), the less-than compelling middle section of the film doesn’t do as much damage as one feared sitting through it.

Bond is in Istanbul chasing after a damaging piece of intel that could expose the identities of numerous agents embedded around the globe. The list is lost despite the best efforts of 007, who is shot while fighting atop a moving train, plunging into the water below.

Several months later with Bond assumed dead, the MI6 headquarters is attacked via a complex computer program that causes a gas leak and an explosion. This terrorist is determined to bring down MI6 with a personal vendetta against M, suggesting that he once worked for her.

Bond isn’t dead (alert the media!) and comes back into the fold to protect M and stop the terrorist, Silva, who was indeed a former MI6 agent and who blames M for the injuries that have turned him into a deranged and revenge-minded evil genius.

This might be a good time to mention that the film is directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition), whose career track of character-driven dramas doesn’t seem a natural fit for a Bond adventure. However, working with a screenplay by Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade plus John Logan (Gladiator), he has introduced us to our first glimpse at the Bond back story. We learn that Bond is Scottish (a nice nod to Sean Connery), that he was orphaned and that according to M, orphans make the best spies. We aren’t given the details, but we suspect that M deliberately provided a mother figure for her young recruits as a way to control and manipulate them as needed. Silva is a prime example of that manipulation gone horribly wrong.

While the middle section of the film drags more than a bit (20 minutes could be trimmed easily), the finish is so spectacular — both emotionally compelling and action-packed — that the Bond franchise appears to be quite healthy and fit for possible decades to come.

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