Even die-hard Sean Connery fans will have to admit there is another actor who can play James Bond when they see “Skyfall.”
Daniel Craig has become Bond, movie by movie, assuming the role until now it’s a given that he will play Agent 007 as the franchise continues. This is a serious Bond, not a cartoonish character. He’s tough as nails, with a history that continues to unfold. Small wonder that this marvelous actioner was helmed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (“American Beauty” and “The Road to Perdition”).
The movie begins with a marvelous action sequence in which Bond pursues a criminal through city streets and, eventually, atop a moving train. Bond evidently is killed — he appears to have drowned — but of course we know better than to expect a movie that’s only 15 minutes long. After a hiatus in which he undertakes some hard drinking and romancing, Bond reappears.
His boss, M (Judi Dench), sends him back to active duty, but it’s clear that Bond isn’t quite up to the assignment. He’s supposed to track down a hard drive containing the names of all the field agents before it can be revealed on youtube. Also, it’s apparent that we don’t know everything about M, who is being haunted literally and figuratively by her past.
The villain Silva (played wonderfully by Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”) has personal scores to settle after undergoing some tragic situations. In addition to tracking Silva, Bond becomes “acquainted” with two women: a colleague (Naomie Harris) and Severine (Berenice Marlohe), a woman who is being held against her will.
He also meets the new, younger Q (Ben Whishaw, on a neighboring screen in “Cloud Atlas” as well), who adds a bit of comic relief to the proceedings. On hand, too, is an old family friend played by Albert Finney and M’s boss Mallory (Ralph Fiennes).
Speaking of familiar: This is old-school Bond, with a theme that runs throughout the show. Sometimes, the old ways are the best ways. Bond fans are going to see a familiar vehicle. If BMT 216A means anything to you, you’ll get a kick out of a particular nod to Bond’s past.
As for the future, it’s certain: There’s a brief homage to “50 years of Bond,” and an assurance that Bond will be back, as the credits begin to roll.