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Poster of "Skyfall."
As the world's most famous, cool and never-failing agent, James Bond could have never imagined he would fail his first mission and fall into a river during the opening scene of the latest 007 film "Skyfall," directed by Sam Mendes.
Yet the blame does not entirely lie with him alone. Bond finds himself in a fight to the death with a villain on top of a train. His boss M, played by Judi Dench, orders agent Eve Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris, to "take the bloody shot" at the moving villainous target for fears of 007 failing to win this scuffle. M simply cannot afford the consequences.
Moneypenny takes the shot, but misses her target and agent 007 is down. Adele's theme song cuts in and the story takes off. Miss Moneypenny is secretary to M, one of the recurring characters in the series after an absence in the last two films. The other one is Q, played by young British actor Ben Whishaw.
Bond pretends to be dead once and for all after that missed shot, but finally finds his way back when MI6 is under attack. His boss and mentor M also refuses to retire after losing him and insists she will fight until "job is done." When Bond comes back, but fails a series of physical and psychological examinations, M still approves his return to the field based on their mutual trust. It's touching to see their reserved and simple interactions.
In this story, rather than saving the world, Bond is actually dealing with several internal affairs, fighting antagonist Raoul Silva who was formerly one of the top agents with MI6. Bond has to protect M from Silva's mad but skillfully orchestrated humiliation, discredit and revenge for her betrayal of him in earlier years.
Director Mendes has taken some inspiration from "The Dark Knight" by Christopher Nolan, which can be felt from the Joker-styled Silva played by Javier Bardem to the rise and fall of the globe's most famous agent.
The film has quite the nostalgic edge to it and even sees a return to where it all began. It revisits Bond's childhood and memories at his family estate Skyfall and shares the origins of Bond who once was an orphan. Being an orphan is best for this profession, M says.
Instead of showing off high-tech spy equipment (other than a Walther PPK pistol with a thumbprint code), ultimate cars or elaborate fights and explosions, the story is very realistic and explores Bond's struggle with past pain and aging, as well as his relationship with his boss M.
M, head of MI6, is the center that all "Skyfall" plots are buildtaround. Dench has played the role in the previous six films, but this is her last time and farewell to the series. And she does it brilliantly. She portrays a strong woman with a broken heart, who never compromises. Gareth Mallory, played by veteran actor Ralph Fiennes, will take over as "M" after this movie, indicating a new era and generation shift for the Bond series.
"Skyfall" is a classic and entertaining Bond film, but it's a tad old-fashioned. The hero may be tired, getting older and less capable than before, but his spirit prevails.
When Silva asks Bond in the film what his hobby is, Bond replies, "Resurrection." And that's precisely what he does: Bond resurrects and rises.
"Skyfall" will be released in China on Jan. 21.
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