Skyfall is not just another James Bond movie, which is simultaneously its greatest strength and biggest weakness. Daniel Craig returns as 007 in a movie set up to be something of a reboot to the franchise. John Cleese (73) is out as Q, replaced by a twenty-something who hands Bond a nice pistol but no exploding pens or submarine car. “That’s so old school” is the message, and the question the movie confronts is whether Bond himself, as a character, and Craig, the actor, are also past their prime. Sam Mendes, known for thoughtful character dramas (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), directs with a stylish touch. A nighttime chase through a glass-walled skyrise is eerily illuminated by reflections from the neon lights outside. Bond’s encounter with this movie’s arch-villain (Silva, played by Javier Bardem, now synonymous with creepy) takes place on an abandoned asian island that has a post-apocalyptic glare. In order to reset, so to speak, Bond the movie has a fair amount of narrative ground to cover if it is also going to have a battle between Bond and Silva to save the world. This stretches the running time to well over two hours. Silva’s motives are more personal, as it turns out, than world domination, so while the action circles the globe, it ultimately is a character drama where old wounds (Bond’s, M’s (Judi Dench), and Silva’s) are exposed to either kill or be healed.

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Planetary Scientist and Asst. Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida; Movie Buff; Trekkie; Jethro Tull fanatic; part-time actor, piano player, writer; and full-time husband and father.

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