Movie Review: Skyfall (English) 163

Bond is Back!! Or that's what we have been made to believe. 'Skyfall' or Bond 23 is being touted as the best James Bond movie ever. But to the purists among Bond fans, this would come across as a dull, conversational flick with occasional bursts of action sequences and the humming of the classic James Bond tune.

The pre-title sequence starts with the trail of a stolen hard drive in a Turkish town, that culminates in a first-fight atop a train, as seen in the trailers. Oh yes, this was supposed to be filmed in India, but didn't happen because the requisite permissions weren't given! At the end of the sequence, Bond is shot and an obituary is written.

Although the start seemed promising, the film goes downhill afterwards. It turns up that the hard disk has the names of secret agents operating in the middle east; remember 'Mission Impossible' anyone? After hearing news of an attack on MI6 headquarters, Bond returns from playing dead to find the bad guy and recover the list.

The bad guy, as it turns out is a hacker; Oh, when James Bond had to come out of the cold war era and appear modern, are computers and hacking the only convenient way to show modernity? What happened to the built up in the previous two Craig movies that dealt with serious themes like terror funding and natural resource monopoly.

While it is tempting to write more about the plot holes, I'm holding short only because those of you who are still keen to see the movie don't get to know how it's going to end. But, all that can be said of 'Skyfall' is that it is hardly a James Bond movie.

Anyone who is familiar with the 20-odd moves made in the Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan era would agree that Daniel Craig's avatar as Bond is different from the rest. Craig seems more like a street thug in a tuxedo and lacks style and humor. Whatever happened to all those famous one-liners that bond is known for?

Another quintessential missing element is gadgetry from the Q-department. This time, all that he gets is a gun that responds only to his palm-prints and a radio transmitter. The phone that Bond uses looks lousy too. But yeah, it was interesting to see the return of the famous Aston Martin DB5 that first appeared in Goldfinger.

Skyfall has very little role for its lead ladies, Naomie Harris who is shown in the trailers to be taking a shot at 007, plays a fellow agent and Bérénice Marlohe is a woman who gets him to the villain looks exotic but hardly has a few minutes of screen time.

There is nothing exciting on locations either. A major portion of the film is shot indoors and underground including caves, tunnels, or old houses. However, two shots stand out. One, Shanghai skyline at night and two, the deserted island lair of the villain, which is actually an abandoned coal mining colony off the coast of Nagasaki.

The film scores for some extraordinary stunts. The bike chase on the rooftops of the grand bazaar in Istanbul, the train-top sequence and the one involving the London Tube. Bond films are usually good with their camera-work and Skyfall is no less. The overhead shots of Scotland stand out. But there isn't enough for action junkies either.

The other plus is some good acting. Daniel Craig lacks the looks and isn't a suave Bond, but is a good actor. Judy Dench and Ralph Fiennes deliver some good performances. The Academy Award winner Javier Bardem plays a good villain. And this time, James Blond, err Bond and his enemy are both Blonds.

The film's release marks 50 years from the date of the first Bond film, 'Dr No' that starred the legendary Sean Connery. This will be the last film where Judi Dench plays 'M'. If this was a farewell movie for her as it seemed from its plot, then it's an apparently a bad and boring idea. Hope they turn up with a better movie next time!

Rating 5/10: Scores for stunts & acting, fails with its plot