Skyfall Movie Review 7 46

Skyfall movie review

If not an outright apology for Quantum of Solace, Skyfall is certainly an acknowledgement of the previous outing’s failures. Realizing the error of its ways, the franchise strips away the convoluted plot of that film for a gracefully simple one, bringing Daniel Craig’s rough-and-readiness first discovered in Casino Royale back to the forefront in all the right ways while upping the classiness Bond has been known for in the past. Brimming with palpable tension throughout, Skyfall is a grown up blockbuster more pre-occupied with its characters than its action though certainly not forgetting the importance of the latter. This ain’t your daddy’s Bond but it’s one he can fully get on-board with.

When on a mission to retrieve a stolen hard drive containing a list of all the MI6 agents currently working in terrorist organizations all over the world, Bond is accidentally gunned down and presumed dead. However, when there’s an attack on MI6 in London, 007 returns to help stop a formidable foe with a familiar face.

Under the direction of Sam Mendes, an inspired choice of director for a franchise if ever there was one, Skyfall is exciting, taut and meaningful all in one, managing to deal with weighty themes – including home-grown terrorism and enemies no longer being nations on a map but individuals – without feeling preachy or heavy-handed. It takes its time but not so much as to be boring, knowing precisely when to ramp everything up to 11. From its spectacular opening motorbike chase sequence (that leaves this year’s The Bourne Legacy in the dust) to the perfectly melancholic theme by Adele to its elaborate yet somehow still plausible finale, this is a truly impressive effort on all fronts from a franchise now half a century old.

Outwith Craig, strong as ever in the iconic role, and the always reliable Dame Judi Dench as M, the cast is made up of a host of first-class actors ranging from Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney and Ben Wishaw to Naomie Harris, new Bond girl Berenice Marlohe and, of course, Javier Bardem as the ominous villain Silva. It’s a good 45 minutes (at least) before Bardem even shows up and yet his presence is felt even before that. Much is said about the fear he instills and when he finally does show up, making quite the entrance, he does not disappoint. Bardem’s creepy demeanour (comparisons with Heath Ledger’s Joker would not be unjust) complete with dyed blonde hair, matching suit, blackened eyes and peculiar voice makes him a distinctive, memorable villain that adds something a little bit different to the mix. Bardem is the stand-out in a cast without a weak link to be found.

If Quantum of Solace instilled worries that the franchise was on shaky ground then Skyfall is a reassuring case of course correction. Even if you’re not the biggest Bond fan in the world this is still hugely enjoyable, providing some of the best action sequences of the year and one of the most handsome-looking movies thanks to the ever-brilliant cinematographer Roger Deakins. Hardcore Bond fans will also find plenty to relish here with a film that’s wholly respectful of what’s come before while realizing we, and Bond, now live in a different world.

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What did you think of Skyfall? Leave your thoughts below!

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I'm a freelance film reviewer and blogger with over 10 years of experience writing for various different reputable online and print publications. In addition to my running, editing and writing for Thoughts On Film, I am also the film critic for The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, covering the weekly film releases, film festivals and film-related features. I have a passion for all types of cinema, and have a particular love for foreign language film, especially South Korean and Japanese cinema. Favourite films include The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and 2001: A Space Odyssey.


  1. There are two rather obvious errors in the film that I noticed. At Skyfall house the old game keeper gives James Bond his fathers old hunting rifle which on close inspection is a shot gun. Rather like mixing up a Ferrari with a Landrover. The other error is that the train with the very large excavator on the back could never have fitted through the narrow railway tunnels the train went through. Fortunately someone uncoupled it before they reached the tunnel.

    1. Actually the first error isn’t an error. The gun he uses is an old fashioned double barrelled hunting rifle. It was specially made for the film by Anderson-Wheeler gunmakers and fires the very old (c.1890) .500 nitro cartridge. It definitely looks like a mistake in the film, which is why I looked it up, but the historicity is actually pretty spot on

  2. My wife and I thought it was a brilliant film and we may go again, BUT this is to spot an error we saw, we think. We are not sure, but we think, when James was on the train and shot by the guy he was chasing he was hit in the right shoulder! Later, when the girl shot him, we did not see where he was hit!….. Later in the movie, he removed the bullet fragments from his shoulder, this time he took it from the LEFT shoulder! We are sure this is a mistake…….. What do you think?? Great film tho’

    1. Hi Phil,

      I honestly didn’t notice but if that is true what a whopper of a mistake! Are you sure he didn’t remove the bullet looking in the mirror?

  3. Me and my wife fully noticed this but thought it was due to the mirror image, BUT the question is if BOND was shot by the Patrice (the bad guy) in the right shoulder on the train, Then WHERE did Eve (Miss Moneypenny) shoot him?? because he removed Patrice’s bullet shrapnel from his right shoulder!, BOND later said to Eve that she had broken a few of his ribs but nothing major was damaged referring to his MANHOOD we guest? But Eves 2nd shot was not explained, unless when he heard M say take the shot he just pretend to get shoot by Eve and fell from the train giving him a way to play dead

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Movie Review: Home Again 0 346

This review was previously published at The National.

Despite an obviously talented leading lady in Reese Witherspoon and a family pedigree behind the camera in making this sort of rom-com flutter sweetly off the screen, Home Again struggles to finds its way out of cloying cliché and narrative contrivance.

This is the directorial debut of Hallie Myers-Shyer, daughter of genre stalwart Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, What Women Want). It focuses on the life of Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), a single mum who has just turned 40 and tries her best to raise her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) in Los Angeles with her job as an interior decorator.

Freshly separated from her British music mogul husband Austen (Michael Sheen), she embarks on a drunken birthday night celebration that leads to her meeting a trio of 20-something lads – Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) – who are trying their best to break into the Hollywood movie business.

The young men improbably end up staying in Alice’s guest house while they work on finishing the script for their first film. Before long they become an integral part of her life, from Alice embarking on a romantic relationship with Harry to George helping out Isabel with her school play. To quote the title of the director’s mother’s 2009 film – it’s complicated.

Except the film mistakes the kind of enjoyably frothy complexity exemplified by the best of the genre for skin-clawing convolution that renders much of the romantic and comedically-tinged drama of Alice’s life lacking in authenticity. Not that it needs the ring of truth that comes with, say, a Ken Loach picture but you need to be able to invest and believe in these characters’ lives as presented.

The approach to gender and generational relationships is simplistic which, of course, is nothing new to a genre that, at least in its Hollywoodized state, so often throws up films meant to be taken as easy-going fluff. But it’s particularly frustrating here when it squanders the potential thrown up with the initial concept of a woman trying to find herself again once she’s out of a stale relationship by entering into one with a much younger man.

It strangely seems far more interested in the plight of the three young men working as three cogs of one creative machine – director/producer, writer and actor – to get ahead in the movie business.  But even then it smacks of implausibility, like a cheap rom-com version of the bromance found in Entourage but without any of the snarky wit or Hollywood satire. Despite decent chemistry between a likeable assembled cast, Home Again is a tough pill to swallow as it rings false through and through.

3.5 out of 10

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin 0 370

This review was previously published at The National.

The world of celebrated children’s author A. A. Milne and the creation of his beloved Winnie the Pooh stories are chronicled in this frightfully polite biopic from director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) that flirts with dipping its toes into darker waters but steadfastly clings to safe tropes and always with its top button firmly fastened.

We start off in 1941 where we find an ageing Milne (Domhnall Gleeson in questionable make-up and greyed hair) and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) living on their secluded East Sussex farm. They receive a telegram informing them that their son, C.R. Milne, is missing presumed dead after heading off to fight in World War Two.

We then jump back in time to Milne on the front lines of the First World War. He returns from the fighting a changed man; suffering from PTSD (popped balloons evoking sudden gunfire et al.), becoming increasingly sick of just making people laugh with his West End plays and the general hustle-bustle that comes with big city life.

He convinces his reluctant wife to move to the country for some peace and quiet and where his infant son, Christopher Robin (played by Will Tilston at the younger age, Alex Lawther as he gets older), can go on the childhood adventures he deserves with the support of loving nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald).

Settling into the kind of serene life he craves, he is inspired to create Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his soon-to-be-beloved friends inspired by the stuffed animals with which his young son has become so enamoured. Unfortunately for Christopher – referred to by everyone as “Billy Moon” – his father uses his real name in the stories, turning him into one of the most famous boys in the nation.

Despite the obvious attraction of it exploring the world famous Pooh stories, it’s a film much more interested in the effect it has on a fractured family clinging on to peacefulness, not least the unwanted attention thrust upon a young boy who simply isn’t equipped to handle it and how his parents carry on oblivious.

If anything it takes a curiously bleak outlook on what these stories mean to the world once they’ve been put out there, conveying a somewhat confusing message for a film that ultimately wants us to celebrate these stories as immortally cherished tales; that the Winnie the Pooh embraced immediately by the public and has now stood the test of time for almost a century is in some way missing the point of what it truly means to the author and a son who, inadvertently or not, was used as a tool of innocence to sell the idea of an idyllic childhood in Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.

It’s bolstered by almost uniformly moving performances; Gleeson plays Milne with a kind of damaged empathy that makes you feel like you get to know the author beyond the public persona. Macdonald is oftentimes heart-breaking as Christopher’s devoted caregiver and Tilston walks away with the film as the adorably sweet-natured young Christopher. It’s only with Robbie that the film makes a misstep; she’s miscast as Milne’s wife and never stepping out of the shadow of cold motherly cliché.

In spite of its darker leanings, the film remains too buttoned up to properly wrestle with those themes in any sort of lasting way, far too polite to ever dive head first into the murky waters into which the drama intermittently peers.

Wrapped in Ben Smithard’s handsomely old-fashioned cinematography and soaked in Carter Burwell’s perpetually swelling score, it’s an aesthetically and emotionally appealing but nevertheless fairly vanilla period biopic best suited to being enjoyed on a rainy Sunday afternoon with tea and biscuits.

6.5 out of 10