Film Review: “Skyfall” (2012)

50 years of James Bond, a perennial “Man’s Man”. Men want to be him, women want to be with him and adventure follows him.

The 23rd Bond film, “Skyfall” deftly but subtly nods to the past 50 years as it sets the stage for the new millennium Bond. Filmed in magnificent Istanbul, China and Scotland, the cinematography and action scenes are perfection. “Skyfall” produces all the glamor and excitement it’s devotees have come to expect and more.

The film transitions Bond into a new world, and accordingly, many of his previous associates and logistics are in the process of renewal. At 43 years of age with greying whiskers, Daniel Craig is getting a little long in the tooth for the rigors of this kind of physical action. But he does an excellent interpretation of Bond and I think he has a few more episodes in him.

Having seen all 50 years of Bond- the first one as a high school student, allow me to point out some of the accouterments of the past in this excellently conceived and directed film.

In “Dr. No” (1962), Sean Connery flashed a brand new style of wristwatch in one of the action scenes, a black face Rolex Submariner. This was a radical departure for wrist wear and ushered in the era of “sport watches”. I lusted so heavily for one I drooled for years, but they cost US$200.00 in the early 60s, a lot of money from a watch. It was years later when I finally obtained one and I wore it for many years. It is still a superb timepiece, and phenomenally expensive now.

1964’s “Goldfinger” introduced the ”Bond Car”, a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 replete with numerous gadgets, including a rudimentary GPS screen, passenger ejection seat and revolving license plates. Jerry Lee, Owner of WBEB Radio in Philadelphia, PA originally bought the car from the Aston Martin Company in 1969 for US$12,000.  The DB5 was sold for 2,600,000 British Pounds Sterling in 2010. The silver car in mint condition is still capable of 145mph and most the gadgets still work.

Cutting away to this week’s iteration of the series, Bond progressively moves into the new millennium and as he does so, he gives brief flashes of the past, but you have to look quickly. In the action scene that opens the film, you get a brief glimpse of him checking the time on a newer version of a Rolex Submariner. Then in later scenes, he switches to an Omega chronometer, which has been used in most of the more modern episodes.

The Bond car for “Skyfall” is reminiscent of the “Goldfinger” car, but if you check out the rear right of the car as it goes by, the logo shows it to be a DB6, built between 1965 and 1971. The practical differences between the two cars are negligible. The license plate number of the DB5 in ‘Skyfall’ is BMT 216A, the same as it was in “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball”.  Unclear why they didn’t find a DB5, possibly so expensive they didn’t want to blow that kind of money on the car and then trash it.

Best parts:  The 15-minute action sequence that trashes half of beautiful Istanbul. British singer Adele singing the title song.

Not so best features:  The actual plot for “Skyfall” is rather thin and a little too prolonged. The magnificent castle in Scotland was fake.

A few minor plot issues, but still an excellent film and highly recommended. Worth a few extra bucks to see it on IMAX. Don’t sit too close to the screen.

I give it four and a half of five shaken, not stirred martinis.

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