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by Louise Adams
Monday Feb 25, 2013

James Bond and M are feeling their ages in "Skyfall," the 23rd installment of the 50-year-old franchise.

MI6's main man can no longer quite pass his physical or marksmanship tests, so he pops pills and downs shooters, making Daniel Craig's beautiful blue eyes bloodshot. But his stumble makes sense - the super-agent is in a brave new world, where cyber-terrorists, as well as the new Q (Ben Whishaw), now do the lion's share of spying online since there are "no more shadows."

Bond gets his latest mission material at the National Gallery, appropriately in front of Turner's painting of the old warship "The Fighting Temeraire." He's surprised to only be issued a gun and a tracking radio. "Were you expecting an exploding pen?" says the fresh-faced, millennial Q. "We don't really go in for that anymore."

Disgruntled ex-agent Silva (another notch for Javier Bardem's psycho killer belt) wants M (the master acting class that is called Dame Judi Dench) to "think on your sins," and chases the good guys through Turkey (with a thrilling motorcycle and train/crane chase), Shanghai (including a cameo by Modigliani's "Women with a Fan" and a way cool scene behind a skyscraper's neon jellyfish display), Macau, London (where Bond is overwhelmed by the Tube at rush hour), and ends up at 007's remote family manse Skyfall, where caretaker Kincade (brilliant Albert Finney) meets the baddies with a sawed-off shotgun and a "Welcome to Scotland."

The script is a literary (Tennyson) and thoughtful homage to the series (a martini is subtly shaken), and it turns out the world needs Bond, James Bond, after all, because "every now and then, a trigger needs to be pulled."

The high-def Blu-ray includes featurettes on Bond cars, women, villains and more, plus commentary by director Sam Mendes, and commentary by producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and production designer Dennis Gassner.

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Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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