Staring Daniel Craig as James Bond, Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, Naomie Harris as an MI6 agent and Albert Finney as Kincade

Directed by Sam Mendes, produced by Eon Productions and released by Metro-Goldwin-Mayer and Columbia Pictures.

 In 2012 Barack Obama was President of the United States, David Cameron was the Prime Minister of England, Hu Jintao was the General Secretary Of The Communist Party Of China until November when he was replaced by Xi Jinping and Dmitry Medvedev was the President of Russia until he was replaced by Vladimir Putin. The U.S. signs a treaty with the Afghanistan government offering military support beyond the 2014 withdrawal date. NASA’s Curiosity Rover lands on Mars and starts a long term research project into the planets geological makeup. Paul McCartney performs Hey Jude at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics and Ringo Starr releases his album Ringo 2012. And on October 23rd 2012 Skyfall made its theatrical debut.

The Plot 

Bond arrives at an MI6 operational site in Istanbul. There he finds agent Ronson who has been wounded and the operational hard drive has been stolen. Bond attempts to help Ronson but M orders him to go after Patrice, the counter agent. Bond runs to the front of the building where he is met by another field agent and they are soon in hot pursuit.

 After crashing Patrice jumps onto a motorcycle and Bond chases him while the other field agent follows. Patrice makes it onto a passing train and Bond jumps on from a bridge. He is shot but gets into a hand to hand fight with the assassin. The field agent comes to the end of the road and sets up to shoot Patrice but she can’t get a clear shot, M order her to fire regardless. The field agent shoots Bond by mistake and he falls off the train into a river. The train passes through a tunnel and Patrice gets away with the hard drive.

Bond’s body is never recovered and he is assumed dead so M writes his obituary. Afterwards she is called into a meeting with Garrot Mallory who informs her that she is to be replaced in two months and he expects to receive her resignation. She tells him that she doesn’t plan to leave the department in a mess and will spend the time trying to resolve any problems. While driving back to her office M receives a cryptic message. When they isolate the source they find it is coming from MI6 headquarters so they try to get back as soon as possible but the top floors explode while they are at a roadblock.

Bond turns up on a tropical beach where he has been hiding out. As he is hanging out at a bar he sees a news story on the MI6 attack and decides to head back to London. He breaks into M’s house where they discuss what is happening, Bond points out that he is still angry at abandoning Ronson, who died, and being shot on her command. M informs Bond that she needs his help but he will have to pass the tests in order to be declared eligible for active duty and that since he was assumed dead all his possessions and apartment were sold since they were MI6 property.

Bond is escorted to the temporary headquarters, an old WWII bunker complex. He struggles through the physical and psychological tests. Afterwards, in order to prove himself he cuts the bullet fragments that are still embedded in his shoulder and turns them over to a lab tech to be analyzed. He reports to M where she and Mallory argue over him returning to field service. She tells Mallory that Bond passed all the tests and she needs him tracking the terrorists that have infiltrated MI6.  Mallory reluctantly agrees to let 007 return to active duty.

The analysts inform M and Bond that the bullet fragments are made from depleted uranium and very rare. They can identify a handful of assassins that use the bullets and Bond is able to identify Patrice. M sends James to the assassins last known location, Shanghai.

Once in China Bond tracks Patrice to a building where he sees the assassin shoot the lobby guard. Bond follows him to an upper floor where Patrice is preparing to shoot someone in another building. After Patrice kills his target he and Bond get into a fight. Patrice falls out of a shattered window, Bond attempts to hold onto him in order to find out who bought the stolen hard drive but he loses his grip and the assassin falls to his death. As Bond is sitting there he sees a mysterious woman in the office where Patrice’s target was sitting, she is watching Bond. Bond searches Patrice’s equipment and finds a casino chip.

Back at MI6 headquarters they receive news that the first five names of agents taken from the stolen hard drive have been released. They track the source and find that a computer in MI6 had been used to decrypt the names. 

Bond goes to the casino in Macau where he meets up with the MI6 field agent who shot him. Bond heads to the cashier where he trades the chip for a briefcase full of money, Patrice’s payoff for the assassination. The mysterious woman, Severine, then meets Bond and they head to the bar for a drink. While talking Bond notices she has a tattoo marking her as a prostitute belonging to an expensive house. He tells her he wants to meet her employer and will help her escape from them. She tells Bond to meet her in two hours.

As he is leaving the casino a group of henchmen attack him. He and one of the thugs end up in the Komodo dragon pit, the henchman doesn’t notice the lizard behind him and is drug into one of the caves. Bond goes to climb out but is attacked by another henchman, who is shot by the field agent.

Bond meets with Severine who takes him on board a sailing ship. They head to an abandon island when Bond is introduced to Raoul Silva, the man who has been behind the attacks on MI6 for the past several years. It turns out Silva was once an MI6 agent working in Hong Kong and had been turned over to the Chinese. He managed to survive but was now out for his revenge on M. Silva then tells Bond that he too is being set up and reads the real MI6 fitness report on 007, he failed all levels and yet was still sent out into the field.

Silva then takes Bond out to the courtyard where Severine is tied to a fallen statue. Raoul challenges Bond to a shooting contest, he puts a glass on her head and wants to see who can be the first to shoot it off, he gives Bond an antique dueling pistol. Bond takes the first shot but misses; Silva takes the next shot and kills Severine. Bond then uses the pistol to hit one of the henchmen, stealing his gun. Bond shoots most of the thugs but finds himself surrounded. Silva asks Bond what he is going to do next but just then MI6 show up, having been signaled by Bond via a miniature transmitter.

Back in England Silva is imprisoned at MI6 headquarters; he confronts M over his betrayal. She tells him that she would eliminate his entire record; it would be as if he never existed. He tells her as a prisoner of the Chinese he tried to kill himself with cyanide and shows her the damage he had survived through. As they are leaving M tells Bond how Silva had gone rogue and in the end she had traded him for 6 wanted murders hiding in China.

Q works on Silva’s computer in order to crack his code. Bond realizes the computer contains maps of all the abandon tunnels in London, including those running under the hidden MI6 bunker. He rushes back to Silva’s cell only to discover the former spy has escaped. Bond chases him through the tunnels into the Tube. Bond realizes that Silva had planned on getting captured and was now after M.

Bond manages to chase Silva to an empty train tunnel but just before he shoots the villain Raoul sets off a bomb. Bond points out he missed but just then a train crashes through, just missing 007 and Silva escapes. Bond then rushes to the cabinet meeting that M is attending where she is being questioned about MI6 activities. Silva arrives and opens fire but soon finds himself in a cross fire with several agents. M manages to flee the building and when she gets into her car it takes off without her driver, Bond is behind the wheel. They head to a hidden storage locker where Bond has his car, they then head to Scotland. Bond contacts Q and asks him to create a false trail to his location but to make sure Silva is able to crack the code.

James and M arrive at the Bond family estate, Skyfall, where they are greeted by the groundskeeper Kincade. He tells Bond that the property and possessions have been sold, the only weapons are a couple of shotguns and some dynamite. Silva’s henchmen arrive and attack, they are lured into the house where Bond and Kincade shoot them. Silva then arrives in a helicopter and starts shooting up the house. Kincade and M escapes via a hidden tunnel. Bond then rigs up a set of propane tanks to explode and heads to the tunnel himself. When the tanks explode the helicopter is hit by shrapnel and crashes into the house.

Silva is unsure if M and Bond are dead but then he sees the caretaker’s flashlight in the distance and sets out after them. He comes across Bond and sends a henchman after him. Bond manages to grab the henchman’s gun, shoots his way through the ice they are standing on and plunge into the water. Bond kills the henchman and swims to the surface.

Silva chases M and the caretaker to a nearby church. There he confronts M and tries to get her to shoot the two of them thus ending it all. Suddenly Bond stabs the villain in the back killing him. However M has been shot and dies.

Back in London the field agent finds Bond on the roof of the MI6 office, she has a package for 007. Inside is an ugly bulldog figurine M kept on her desk office. Bond tells the field agent that it is a message from M to not give up. They then head inside where Bond has a meeting with Mallory, the new head of MI6. As they walk into the office Bond asks the agent what her name is and she introduces herself as Eve Moneypenny, Mallory’s new assistant.

Mallory tells Bond that he is now the permanent head of MI6 and he expects Bond to be more in control of his actions. Bond calls him M.

The end.

About The Film

While trying to rebuild the studio MGM had amassed a large debt. Throughout the 2000’s there was talk of the studio either being sold to another film company or being taken over by debt holders. There was the possibility that there would be no more films released under the MGM banner.  When the 2008 recession hit MGM was forced into making a deal to avoid bankruptcy and was put under new leadership. As a result the release of Skyfall was delayed until 2012 when the studio was finally on solid ground financially; in fact it was the success of Quantum Of Solace that kept the company afloat during the crisis.

The title song Skyfall was written and performed by British singer Adele. The single was released at 0:07 British Standard Time on October 5th 2012, the 50th anniversary of the release of Doctor No. The song was nominated for an Academy Award and became the first Bond song to with Best Original Song. It generally ranks towards the top of the popularity list.

In the 1990’s a new entertainment experiment began known as IMAX. Several attempts were made to convert the system for Hollywood movies but they generally met with a lukewarm response. With the development of the digital camera filmmakers were able to create their movies in a format that could be adjusted to the IMAX screen and with the rise of 3D technology people soon were willing to pay the higher ticket fees to see movies on the large screens. Although Skyfall wasn’t shot in the IMAX format it was still the first Bond film to be shown in the special theaters.

Other Characters

Tiago Rodriguez aka Raoul Silva as played by Javier Bardem. Silva is a former MI6 agent who went rogue. M allows the Chinese to caputer Silva in exchange for several prisoners. He attempts to commit suicide via a hidden cyanide capsule, but he fails and instead causes massive damage to his face. He turns psychotic and vows to get his revenge on M. After years he builds a criminal empire and infiltraits MI6 and sets his plan into motion, including getting captured in order to hack the computers. In the end Bond lures him to Skyfall, Silva tries to kill M but Bond kills him first.

Javier Bardem was born in Spain and comes from an acting family. His first role was when he was 6 although he persued a career as an artist. He began acting again to pay the bills but was soon being cast in leading rolls and abandoned art. Duirng his career he has won the Golden Globe, The Screen Actors Guild Award, the BAFTA, five Goya Awards, two European Film Awards, Best Actor at Cannes, two Volpi Cups and the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his roll as Anton Chigurh in the movie No Country For Old Men. He was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for the film Before Night Falls.

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Garret Mallory as played by Ralph Fiennes. Mallory is the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee and is investigating MI6 after the string of terrorist attacks. He opposes sending Bond back into the field but M fakes the fitness report. After M is killed by Silva, Mallory takes over as the head of MI6 and Bond calls him M. This is the second time we have known the name of M, the first was Admiral Hargreaves.

Ralph Fiennes is a well known actor and was nominated for two Academy Awards, two BAFTAs and a Golden Globes for Count Almasy in The English Patient and as Amon Goeth in Shindlers’s List. He won the BAFTA for his roll as Amon Goeth.

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Severine as played by Berenice Marlohe. Severine is a prostitute who works for Silva. She is trapped in the underground White Slave market working as a prostitute. Silva shoots her to prove a point to Bond. The character was criticized by international women’s rights organizations for being manipulated by Bond resulting in her death.

Berenice Marlohe has mostly been featured on TV shows in her homeland of France. Severine has been her biggest international roll.

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Kincade as played by Albert Finney. Kincade is the groundskeeper for the Bond estate Skyfall in Scotland. He stayed on even after the property is sold after the report of Bond’s death. He helps Bond fight off Silva’s henchmen and M to escape. The part of Kincade had been written with Sean Connery in mind but the producers decided that the fans would be distracted so they cast Finney instead.

Albert Finney is a British actor with a long acting career. He has won the BAFTA, Golden Globe, Emmy and the Screen Actors Guild Award. He was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award four times and once as Best Supporting Actor.

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Q as played by Ben Whishaw. In the two previous Bond films, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, Q was not included in the film. He makes his return in Skyfall as they young computer geek, the opposite of the character in the previous films. In the film he is both a mechanical and computer expert, reflective of the new era.

Ben Whishaw has played a number of rolls in his homeland of England but is best known for Q. He is the fourth actor to play the part.

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Miss Moneypenny as played by Naomie Harris. Like Q, Miss Moneypenny had been left out of the first two reboot Bond films. In this movie she starts out as a novice field agent but is assigned an office job after she shoots Bond. Her actual character name is kept secrete until the end of the film, even during production she was listed as Eve in the script and promotions.

Naomie Harris is a British actress who has appeared in a number of rolls in her homeland. Her breakout roll came in the film 28 Days Later and is probably best known to American audiences as Tia Dalma/Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Gadgets

When Bond is chasing Patrice through the market in Istanbul the assassin opens fire with a Glock 18, a fully automatic pistol. His gun is equipped with a 100 round Beta C drum magazine. This is a real gun and not something made up for the movie.

When Bond returns to service Q gives him a new Walther PPK S with palm reader in grip. A henchman gets Bond’s gun and tries to shoot the spy but it won’t fire and the villan is drug off by a Komodo dragon. Q also gives Bond a compact radio which he uses to alert MI6 when he finds Silva.  

Patrice uses high tech glass cutter on the safety glass in skyscraper. The actual cutting isn’t shown but the glass is approximately an inch thick and it does a clean job with no shattering. Chances are it works off some kind of laser.

When tracking Sylva in the London Underground Q uses a type of face recognition software and the security cameras to find out the train he is on.

The computer at MI6 also has a 3D real time tracking program that not only follows Bond but the on coming trains.

At Skyfall M uses a low tech weapon. She empties the powder along with bits of nails and other items into plastic bags. She then takes broken light bulbs and ties it all together. The light bulbs are screwed back into the chandelier and when she flips the switch the filament sets off the powder and sets off a shrapnel into Silvia's henchmen.

Concepts

Duirng the series we learn bits and pieces of Bond’s life. We know he is from Scotland, went to Oxford, attained the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy and his families motto is The World Is Not Enough. In this film we learn his family’s estate is called Skyfall, which is where the name of the moive comes from. We also learn that when Bond was a child his parents, Andrew and Monique Delacroix Bond, died in a mountain climbing accident and he was raised by the caretaker, Kincade. Bond’s origon story is similar to Bruce Wayne in Batman.

The movie contines the tradition of trying to create exciting chase scenes. In Skyfall there is a car chase through the streets of Istanbul until Bond forces Patrice to crash. The assassin shoots several cops and steals a motorcycle. Bond hops on a bike and continues the chase across the rooftops while Moneypenny follows. Eventually Patrice makes it to a train so Bond crashes his bike into a bridge and flips himself on to the train.

Duirng a gun battle on the train Patrice shoots the connections between the cars. Bond uses a bucket crain to connect with the escaping train and crawls across just before the back of the train car tears off. The fight continues on the roof of the train, through several small tunnels until Moneypenny shoots Bond and he falls into a river below.

The movie Die Another Day was highly criticized for using CGI for the more specutacular stunts. The producers of Skyfall learned from this lesson and the stunts were done, mostly for real. In the scene when Bond is shot and falls off the bridge Danial Craig did the actual fall off the train, into a safety mat. Then a stuntman did an initial fall off the bridge into scaffolding. The river was empty at the time of the shoot so they shot the splash in a separate river a few miles away.  Audiences appreciated the reality of the stunts.

After Bond is shot and fakes his death we see him becoming an alcoholic. This includes a scene where he involved in a drinking game where he has to take a shot with a scorpion pearched on his arm. The scorpion wasn’t real but digitally added. This is to demonstrate that Bond is both damaged and yet functional.

When Bond first meets with Q he heads to the National Gallery in London. As he waits he studies the painting “The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838” by William Turner. The painting is of an old warship being towed to a dock to be scrapped. It is symbolic of Bond himself, a Cold War spy who has seen his better days.

When Bond is given his new gun he asks Q if that is all he is getting. Q comments, “You were expecting an exploding pen? We don’t go in for that anymore.” As he is leaving he says “Please return the equipment in one piece”, this is a tribute to Desmond Llewelyn who had played Q for decades and it was always his parting comment to Bond.

In the reboot they had been introuding the classic Bond symbolism. The movies showed the origion of the classic cocktail, the car and in Skyfall he does the introduction of “Bond, James Bond” when he meets Severine in Macau. This is similar to the origin in Doctor No when Bond meets Sylvia Trench in a casino.

During her deposition M mentions her late husband. She had been seen in bed with a man in the film Quandum Of Solace.  This is probably the most we ever learn about the personal life of any of the M characters.

When Bond and M are trying to escape Silva they need to ditch her company car that can be tracked so they head to Skyfall in his classic Astin Martin DB5. When M complains about the comfort Bond mentions the ejector seat, as they are driving off the classic Bond theme plays. At Skyfall Bond uses the cars hidden machine guns to take out several of Silva’s henchmen. Eventually the car is destroyed by a 50 cal. Minigun fired from a helicopter.

At the Skyfall estate Kincade shows M the Priest Hole, also known as a Popehole, a secret passage used to escape the house. These hiding places got their name during the reign of Blood Mary who tracked down reformist priests and had them killed. Friendly Protastants would hide them in secret passages such as this. Kincade tells M that when Bond’s parents died he hid in the tunnel for two days, another Batman type of reference, the Batcave under Wayne manor.

The movie ends with the classic shot of bond seen down the rifled gunbarrel as he turns to shoot. It is followed by a gun barrel logo with 50 Years written in the center and Bond Will Return underneath.

Dated References

In 1938 Hitler orderd the creation of the Volkswagon, the People’s Car. After the war the Beetle was created and eventually became the most popular compact car in the world. However time and competition eventually cut down on demand and the car went out of production in 2003. Volkswagon introduce the New Beetle in 1998 and the model was produced until 2011. That year they introduced the Beetle A5. In the movie during the train fight scene Bond knocks several of the new model VW’s off a flatbed train car.

After he fakes his death Bond overhears a news story about the attack on MI6 headquarters. The story is being read by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, this is the first time a real newscaster is used in the story line.

In 2000, as part of London’s millennium celebration British Airways constructed the London Eye, a giant ferris wheel on the banks of the Thames. The Eye was only suppose to operate until 2005 and then be torn down but like the Eiffel tower it has become a popular attraction the government has put it under protection and it has become a permanent part of the skyline. It is prominently featured in the background of the scenes in London.

When Bond meets Silva for the first time it is on an abandon island that is supposed to be off the coast of China. In the story he fakes a disaster and the population has to flee. This is not a set, it is Hashima island, a former underground coal mining operation off the coast of Japan. When the value of coal dropped the island was abandon in 1974. It has now become a study in the decay rate of man made structures exposed to the ocean.

Reception

The film was an international hit raking in a large box office despite being up against the final Harry Potter installment. Most critics enjoyed Danial Craig’s performance as Bond and felt that the series had managed to get back to its roots after the negative response to Quantum Of Solace. The movie generally ranks in the top of the popularity lists.

To learn more about Skyfall visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skyfall

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