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'Skyfall' Early Review Round-Up: Mendes, Craig, and Bardem Rise to the Occasion

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood October 15, 2012 at 4:21PM

Early reviews for Bond 23 are glowing. Directed by Sam Mendes, "Skyfall" features Daniel Craig in his third Bond film and showcases Javier Bardem as the sinister villain and Judi Dench's M. Reviewers report that under Mendes' guidance, this James Bond might be the best of them all.
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Early reviews for Bond 23 are glowing. Directed by Sam Mendes, "Skyfall" features Daniel Craig in his third Bond film and showcases Javier Bardem as the sinister villain and Judi Dench's M.  Reviewers report that under Mendes' guidance, this James Bond might be the best of them all.

"Skyfall" revolves around a WikiLeaks-style debacle that has unsettled government authority - a plot line that the critics praise for having cultural and political relevancy.  Reviewers also show admiration for the look of the film, which in cinematographer Roger Deakins hands gives the Bond film reverence to its 50 year history as well as a contemporary pared-down feel.  Though the number will most likely drop a bit, "Skyfall" currently boasts an 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes as of writing. 

Wow. Sunday night Sixty Minutes profiled Cubby Broccoli scions Barbara and Michael Wilson, who grew up with the franchise, so much so that when she was a kid Barbara expected the real 007 to walk in the door. Our review and the first batch of early writeups are excerpted below.

Demetrios Matheou, Thompson on Hollywood

Could this be the best-acted Bond ever? Mendes is surely responsible for the calibre of the supporting cast, which includes Ralph Fiennes, as the bureaucrat breathing down M’s neck, perky Naomie Harris as rookie agent Eve, and Ben Whishaw as the new Q, an anorak-wearing nerd-genius, whose introductory joust with Bond in the National Gallery is an instant classic. “A gun and a radio,” complains the agent of the new era’s lack of toys. “It’s not exactly Christmas.”  And then there’s Javier Bardem, whose Bond villain is as memorable as his Oscar-winning bad guy in "No Country for Old Men." With his foppish blond hair and bleached eyebrows, monstrous ego and fondness for fondling Bond’s thighs, Bardem’s Silva is one part Julian Assange, one part Hannibal Lecter and one part Kenneth Williams. He’s extraordinary.


Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

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Dramatically gripping while still brandishing a droll undercurrent of humor, this beautifully made film will certainly be embraced as one of the best Bonds by loyal fans worldwide and leaves you wanting the next one to turn up sooner than four years from now. Bond watchers have been especially eager for "Skyfall" to arrive for several reasons, particularly to see if the Craig sequence of films can bounce back from the crushing low of Quantum of Solace after starting so high with "Casino Royale," and to evaluate what fresh perspective might be delivered by big and unexpected talents like director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins. The answers are “yes” to the first proposition and “quite a bit” to the second. Whereas "Casino Royale" tasted like a fine old vintage served in a snappy new bottle, "Skyfall" seems like a fresh blend altogether, one with some weight and complexity to it.


Peter Debruge, Variety

Putting the "intelligence" in MI6, "Skyfall" reps a smart, savvy and incredibly satisfying addition to the 007 oeuvre, one that places Judi Dench's M at the center of the action. It's taken 23 films and 50 years to get Bond's backstory, but the wait was worth it. Whatever parallels it shares with the Bourne series or Nolan's astonishingly realized Batman saga, "Skyfall" radically breaks from the Bond formula while still remaining true to its essential beats, presenting a rare case in which audiences can no longer anticipate each twist in advance. Without sacrificing action or overall energy, Mendes puts the actors at the forefront, exploring their marvelously complex emotional states in ways the franchise has never before dared.


This article is related to: Skyfall, Skyfall, Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Javier Bardem, Reviews, Reviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.