Clif’ at the Movies

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From its twenty-minute opening chase on the streets and in the market place of Istanbul, “Skyfall” increases the tension with each twist and turn. Daniel Craig’s toned and taut Bond copes with constant mind-blowing dilemmas tossed in his path in hot pursuit of an unknown assailant whose inside knowledge of the layout of the ministry’s London headquarters has already triggered a massive explosion. The villain even made off with a computer hard drive that exposes all implanted agents to possible extinction.

“M” (Judi Dench), the hard-boiled and driven director of the ministry, pushes Bond to the nth degree. She appears only to care about winning, especially when clues point to a previous anguished former agent. She may possibly be behind the current rebellion and crazed revenge trip of Raul Silva (Javier Bardem), who is hell bent on world domination.

Ralph Fiennes is brought in to supervise M, but is he strong enough to take on this control monster? Perhaps he soon may aid in turning her out to pasture. Albert Finney is on hand, too.

Only MI-6 agent Eve (Naomie Harris) has Bond’s back, though, when M assigns Bond to untangle the skeins of treachery. Eve’s creamy tan complexion blends well with Bond’s blondness up close. Ever the sexual guy on the prowl in his second-skin suits, Bond desires her, and she is nearly as aggressive and well trained as he.

But Bond can never be true to any woman. When the action moves to the glamorous night scenes of Macau, 007 encounters sinuous and radiantly polished Severine (Berenice Marlohe). She is a deliciously desirable Asian hostess moving him in place for the enemy’s kill. Too clever for the trap, Bond is all over the home scene in London before facing up to his archenemy Silva.

Back at headquarters, “Q” (Ben Whishaw) keeps the computer screens pulsing and humming and determining where the encounters are occurring, doing his best to manipulate the events, at times comically so.

The last sequence of the adventure takes place in Scotland in a suspenseful shoot out while armed helicopters swirl above and directly at the combatants. At the Scotland mansion we also learn a few facts about Bond’s heritage.

Academy Award-winning Director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) maintains a tight reign on the ever-evolving events, while the grand “Skyfall” soundtrack, stylistically voiced by Adele, rises and falls dramatically in the background. The script, by John Logan, Neil Purvis, and Robert Wade, enlarges on the spirit of timelessness the Bond films sell, and Roger Deakins’ cinematography encapsulates all the rhythmic magic.

As Bond, Daniel Craig is especially appealing in the minutely tailored silver gray suit featured on the film’s poster. Bardem works the character of Silva equally well, as menacingly poisonous as roiling quicksilver about to enter a seeping wound.

“Skyfall” surely ranks in the top 5 best of the 23 Bond films.

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