SKYFALL (Sony/MGM, 2012)

Entry Source: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin


★★★1/2  The twenty-third film in the Eon Productions James Bond series. US release date: November 9, 2012. Budget: $200 million. Worldwide box office gross: $1.1 billion (US domestic gross: $304.4 million; international gross: $806.1 million).[1] Running time: 143 minutes.

The Setup

An enemy agent (Ola Rapace) has stolen a hard drive with a list of NATO agents embedded in international terrorist organizations. James Bond (Daniel Craig) tracks him down in Istanbul, but loses him when Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), a field agent, accidentally shoots him instead of the target. M (Dame Judi Dench) is seriously criticized for allowing the list to fall into the wrong hands, and she’s pressured by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the chairman of Britain’s Intelligence and Security Committee, to retire. When MI6 headquarters in London is targeted by a terrorist bomb, Bond, battered physically and emotionally but not dead, returns to active duty (even though he fails every requalifying exam). He eventually follows clues that lead him to Asia and former MI6 agent Silva (Javier Bardem), now a rogue operative with a crime organization at his command, who is determined to enact revenge on the woman he blames for betraying him to the Red Chinese: M.

Behind the Scenes

When new James Bond actors are introduced, they usually hit their stride in the third film. Sean Connery, exuding confidence and terrific timing, turned Goldfinger into an international smash in 1964. Roger Moore’s third outing, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), catapulted the Bond series to new heights of spectacular adventure, building a new generation of fans in the process. Daniel Craig’s third film, Skyfall, became the most successful in the series financially—the first Bond to gross over $1 billion worldwide.

Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were determined to improve on Quantum of Solace, and their solution was to encourage writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan to create a memorable villain—often the hallmark of a great Bond film. As Purvis recalled, “Either Sam Mendes or Daniel Craig suggested Javier Bardem as the perfect villain. So right from the very beginning we were writing for him.”[2] Bardem is definitely a highlight, bringing to the role the same unstoppable malevolence that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men (2007).

Purvis added, “It’s great having someone like Sam Mendes directing, because he can get a hold of someone like Javier Bardem. It was also the first time that we already had a director in place when we started.” Mendes was an unusual choice for the role, his previous experience more with straight drama than with blockbuster action. But he proved to be quite capable at bringing gripping suspense and believable emotion to this film, and his action sequences are first rate. With MI6 under siege from a mysterious organization that appears all-powerful, the movie’s stakes are high, proving a great challenge to Bond and a thrilling ride for audiences.

The Cast
Role
Actor/Actress
James Bond Daniel Craig
M Dame Judi Dench
Silva Javier Barden
Gareth Mallory Ralph Fiennes
Eve Moneypenny Naomie Harris
Severine Bérénice Lim Marlohe
Kincade Albert Finney
Q Ben Whishaw
Tanner Rory Kinnear
Patrice Ola Rapace
Clair Dowar, MP Helen McCrory
Dr. Hall Nicholas Woodeson
The Crew
Role
Crew Member
Director Sam Mendes
Writers Neal Purvis
Robert Wade
John Logan
Producers Barbara Broccoli
Michael G. Wilson
Director of Photography Roger Deakins
Music by Thomas Newman
Title song performed by Adele
Production Designer Dennis Gassner
Costume Designer Jany Temime
Second Unit Director Alexander Witt
Casting by Debbie McWilliams
Stunt Coordinator Gary Powell
Title Designer Daniel Kleinman
Editor Stuart Baird


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[1] “Skyfall (2012),” The Numbers, accessed July 9, 2020, https://www.the-numbers.com/movie/Skyfall.

[2] Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, interview by ODE Entertainment, YouTube, February 18, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcrCdVOoosg.