Left with mixed feelings over ‘Skyfall’

Christina Bennett

>>CORRECTION: Actress Naomie Harris’ name was misspelled.
Battle-weathered and losing confidence, a secret agent without his physical strength or gusto is a combination for disaster. James Bond faces this dangerous cocktail of circumstance in the 23d installment of the film franchise, but proves there is no other operative better suited to protect the queen and country.

     Directed by Sam Mendes, “Skyfall” follows James Bond (Daniel Craig) as his loyalties to Britain and his boss M (Judi Dench) are tested when Raoul Silva, a former operative (Javier Bardem) turned criminal, resurfaces seeking vengeance against his former employer MI6.

  Diving into action from the opening sequence, Bond is in pursuit of an assailant with a hard drive of MI6 identities, that if not recovered could lead exposed agents to their death. Unusually, he is working with another agent, Eve (Naomi Harris).

          An order from M for Eve to take a shot with Bond in the line of fire, leaves him wondering who is on his side. After falling off the map for a while, an attack on MI6 headquarters prompts 007’s return to London and subsequent return to the field, though he fails to pass physical and psychological tests.
But something has shaken Bond; he isn’t the same mentally or physically, yet he refuses to back down.
Joining in the hunt for Silva are the new faces of Q (Ben Whishaw) and M’s overseer Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes). Q is an entertaining addition to the reinvented Bond films, with a witty edge that makes the young tech savvy prospect likeable.
        “Skyfall” is suspenseful throughout, but focuses less on Bond’s work as an agent and is more of a probe into deeper psychological domain of espionage. Namely, the film uses the nefarious character Silva as a case study in life after defecting from the agency.
Unlike other Bond movies, “Skyfall” deviates from the usual script because the villain is coming after MI6 rather than the other way around, and the stakes are higher this time. The sobering dose of reality gives the film a different vibe, unlike the two predecessors where Craig’s Bond seemed to enjoy the spy game.
Although hailed by critics as one of the best Bond movies, “Skyfall” felt incomplete. It tried show Bond’s character growth, but why fix what’s not broken? The disconnect stems from the unspoken emotional rollercoaster the audience can see Bond going through but is only half explained.

Bond’s sexiness is diminished in “Skyfall” only because he is not the typical confident and debonair secret agent, but unsure and lacking passion.

   “Skyfall” is as gripping as Craig’s past interpretations, but the allure of exotic locations, fancy toys, and casual flings are displaced by questions about the human psyche and ghosts of the past.  Not that there’s not more to Bond than good times, let’s just hope he recovers from his rut and comes back with a bang in his next mission.