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REVIEW: 'Skyfall'

REVIEW: 'Skyfall'

REVIEW: 'Skyfall', Flicks.co.nz

4 stars

Bond 23 with Daniel Craig returning as 007 and facing a new adversary, played by a sinister, blonde Javier Bardem. Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty).
In cinemas November 22. Also playing in IMAX

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After Casino Royale so stunningly re-set the template, and Quantum Of Solace so sleekly snapped it, new Bond director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) has an unenviable task. How to combine the classy (Oscar-standard actors, Bond's personal demons) with the camp (quips, girls, gadgets) for 007's 23rd outing?

On the classy side is Craig, throwing himself into the fray like an angry, charismatic rugby ball; in the camp camp is Bardem's blonde, possibly bisexual, rogue M16 agent, who swoops in to threaten M (the ever-dignified Judy Dench) like a fabulous yellow dragon. One second we're worrying about Bond's physical deterioration, the next he's having two subway trains thrown at him. Though this tonal tug of war makes this the most fun Bond flick since about 1977, it's a far cry from the franchise's back-to-basics promise – imagine From Russia With Love retooled for Roger Moore.

Mendes certainly brings the spectacle: a silly, CG-enhanced motorbike chase across the roofs of Istanbul gets things off to a very Brosnan-y start, the coral-inspired credit sequence is beautiful, and a neon-flecked fistfight every bit as awesome as the trailer suggests. But it's the (comparatively) smaller moments Mendes excels in, such as Bond trading quips with new Q Ben Wishaw or Bardem's soul-baring mission statement.

“Age is no guarantee of efficiency,” says Q. “And youth is no guarantee of innovation,” replies 007 in what turns out to be the film's key exchange. But who needs innovations such as computer-generated lizards (yes, really) with performers as efficient, and characters as ageless, as these?

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