‘Skyfall’ fresh yet familiar

Movie review
By: Frank Miller, Gold Country News Service
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Directed by Sam Mendes        

Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench

Rating: Five out of five stars

After 50 years of daring espionage, fast cars and perfectly shaken martinis, you would think that a new James Bond movie would have nothing original to offer.

What makes “Skyfall” such a blast of fresh air is the way it reaches into the past to update Bond for the modern era.

Recent Bond movies, with Daniel Craig in the title role, have focused on stripping 007 of his tried-and-true tropes with a focus on making the series feel more tangible and grounded.

In short, they tried to turn James Bond into Jason Bourne.

However, director Sam Mendes has brought back many of Bond’s classic elements to prove that they can work in a contemporary setting with just a few subtle tweaks.

After a rousing opening set piece that takes place atop a moving train, we pick up with a

left-for-dead Bond who comes back to MI6 after it is attacked by a mysterious cyber-terrorist named Silva (Javier Bardem).

Silva has a vendetta against M (Judi Dench) and will stop at nothing to settle the score between them.

Bardem makes Silva one of the best Bond villains of all time by delivering a performance that is delightfully unhinged and, dare I say, sensual.

His first encounter with Bond is unlike any the superspy has faced before as Silva flirts with 007 while trying to intimidate him. For a womanizer such as Bond, this throws him for a loop and it’s amusing to watch him rethink his strategy.

Craig is in fine form, allowing Bond to show the cracks under his steely visage.

His chemistry with his co-stars has never been better, especially with field agent Eve (Naomi Harris) and the new Q (Ben Whishaw), updated as a young tech-savvy geek.

Everything about the movie feels classic, yet fresh.

From the throwback theme song to the clever nods at the Connery era, Bond is back in a big way and the “Skyfall” is a welcome return to form.

Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.