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Skyfall: The finest Bond film ever?

October 29, 2012 14:34 IST
A scene from SkyfallThe latest James Bond adventure Skyfall scored a mighty $77 million in just about 25 countries including the United Kingdom and Russia. It will open in India on November 2, and in the US on November 9.

Argo dominated the North American scene.

The critics' darling Argo, based on a real life rescue operation that got American embassy workers out of Iran with the help of the Canadian embassy, rose to the number one position in its third week.

In less than three weeks, the movie, which received a thundering ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and began its Oscar buzz immediately, has grossed a healthy $60 million in America and Canada.

Currently showing in half-a-dozen countries including Australia, Argo will be expanding soon to other lucrative markets.

Hollywood analysts expect the film, directed by Ben Affleck, who also plays the lead, to grab over $200 million worldwide before the nomination season begins in early December.

It cost about $45 million to make and will become profitable from its American run alone.

On the other hand, the James Bond thriller Skyfall, which cost at least $125 million, is expected to gross at least $500 million worldwide, with at least 70 percent of it coming from outside North America where Bond movies are bigger crowd-pullers than in America.

Skyfall comes 50 years after the first Bond movie, Dr No, based on Ian Fleming's novel, opened to huge worldwide success. It proves that there is indeed a bright future for old classics when they are given a contemporary twist.

There are glamorous girls and fabulous cars in the new movie as is the tradition with Bond films but there is also a computer wizard helping Bond and British Intelligence fight the seemingly indestructible villain.

Super spy Bond's loyalty to his superior M is sorely tested as her past begins to haunt her. As the British spy agency MI6 comes under attack, 007 must hunt down and destroy the threat, even if his life is threatened.

Sam Mendes, the Oscar winning director of American Beauty, who is known for his cerebral cinematic dramas, proves with Skyfall that a wonderful director can shine in any genre.

Many critics have argued that this is the finest Bond film.

The 23rd James Bond adventure, it features Daniel Craig as the intrepid spy who follows deadly enemies across the globe and doesn't allow his dalliances with pretty women prevent him from accomplishing his mission. It is being shown on about 80 IMAX screens, increasing its appeal significantly.

The pleasure of seeing Craig flex his muscles and crack a few jokes (he is arguably the best Bond since the hallowed years of Sean Connery) is not the only big appeal in the film.

There are several veteran artists especially two Oscar winners who shine throughout the film -- the majestic Judi Dench who is M, and the laughing villain, played by Javier Bardem.

Mendes has received very high praise from the critics for adroitly combining brain and muscle in Skyfall. Some have also suggested that this is an Oscar worthy film.

'It has all the babes, bullets, blasts, high-energy fisticuffs and exotic locales (Istanbul, Macau, Shanghai, Scotland -- Scotland?!? Yes, Scotland) you expect. But what it really has going for it is the unexpected,' wrote The Globe and Mail, Canada's most read newspaper.

'A past-haunted story for one that owes a lot to, of all things, the Harry Potter movies. A genius of a villain for another, played by a blond (!) Javier Bardem with a blend of campiness, menace and pathos that's equal parts Hannibal Lecter, Heath Ledger's Joker and No Country for Old Men's Anton Chigurh. And a final 30 minutes -- often the weakest stretch in the Bond narrative arc -- so crammed with great twists and turns that they, in effect, recast the foundation of the franchise and all but guarantee its health for at least another 10, 20, hell, maybe even another 50 years.'

With such praise, it won't be surprising if Mendes, whose career has spanned nearly three decades, helms another James Bond adventure.

Arthur J Pais in New York