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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.

Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph


"Skyfall" shakes together familiar elements of the Ian Fleming canon - the cars, the guns, the exotic locales with the dames to match - into a blistering comic book escapade that the old Bond, and one suspects Fleming too, would find altogether alien. Bardem’s lip-lickingly camp turn makes him the oddest Bond villain since the Roger Moore era, and his nicotine hair flops queasily over his forehead in a way that calls to mind Julian Assange. By acknowledging the rise of cyberterrorism in the same way Nolan played on the West’s new vulnerability in the wake of 9/11, "Skyfall" is a Bond film for the Anonymous generation.

Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

"Skyfall" creates a mission statement for the character's very existence, proving how perfectly everything we know about Bond can fit into modern times. Midway through the film he deadpans that his hobby is "resurrection," and though this new Bond was technically introduced six years ago, it really does feel like he's been reborn. With a perfect mix of classic Bond tropes and fresh, modern style, "Skyfall" is vital, thrilling and consistently surprising; it's as good as Bond has ever been, and a more than convincing argument that James Bond matters more now than ever before.

Xan Brooks, The Guardian

By this point, the makers of "Skyfall" have taken the bold decision to open Bond up – to probe at the character's back-story and raise a toast to his relationship with M. Yet this touchy-feely indulgence proves to be a mistake, in that it paves the path to soft-headedness, nostalgia and (worst of all) jokey banter with Bond's bearded old retainer. Don't they realise that 007 has always been at his most convincing when he's at his crudest and least adorned; when he's serving as a blank canvas for macho fantasy; the dark angel of our disreputable natures?

Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist

The first thing that strikes you, walking out of "Skyfall," is that (as with "Batman Begins") it's the first Bond in a long while to really place character and story at the forefront of things, rather than stringing together a series of set-pieces ("Casino Royale" came closer, but didn't go into the same degree of depth). This is a new Bond, aging, vulnerable and off his game -- something driven home by the excellent Adele-scored opening credits -- and Craig gets some new notes to play for the character, and does as reliably and excellently as he did in the two previous entries. 007 now fits him like a glove.
But Mendes gets a lot more right than he gets wrong, and in the process has found a confident new identity for the franchise -- not afraid of its past, but not chasing its competitors or being scared of the future either. It might take another viewing of each to see if it exceeds "Casino Royale" as the best since the Sean Connery days, but at the very least, it makes clear that after the disappointment of "Quantum of Solace" that Bond is back, and he's not going anywhere. [B+]

Guy Lodge, HitFix

You sense Craig may have been happier with the hard-line, no-frills direction “Quantum of Solace” was taking. If the gleaming surfaces and unexpected tender areas of this grandly entertaining new adventure are anything to go by, not many of his colleagues agree with him -- though Mendes, generally stronger on polish than on pep, might have been harder on the script’s purpler speechifying. (He also leaves dangling at least one expensive and wholly extraneous set piece in the London Underground.) On balance, however, “Skyfall” represents a happy compromise between golden-anniversary nostalgia and post-Bourne streamlining. The action here may be rooted in a post-9/11 environment of terrorism and darting paranoia, but with its retro fittings and overriding spirit of British conservation, this venerable series is finally copping to its status as heritage cinema – and is no worse off for it.

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

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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.