We know that with rave reviews, Sony and MGM’s “Skyfall” could exceed the global gross on any other Bond. (Bond 22 gross/review rankings here.) The first international grosses are in from 25 markets and James Bond 23, the third starring Blond Bond Daniel Craig, is off to a rip-roaring start, opening everywhere at #1 and grossing $77.7 million. (It opens stateside on November 9.)
The UK set the pace with a record-breaking estimated $32.4 million (£20.1). It’s the all-time Saturday attendance record, the biggest opening of 2012 and the second biggest Friday-to-Sunday opening weekend in history, following only the 3-D “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” According to Sony, “this launch was 76% bigger than Daniel Craig’s first turn as 007, ‘Casino Royale,’ and 30% bigger than’ Quantum Of Solace.'”
I finally saw “Skyfall” and was not disappointed. Screenwriter John Logan (“The Aviator”) and director Sam Mendes have delivered the smartest of the Bonds, the darkest and most personal. (Peter Debruge charts the evolution of the entire Bond oeuvre here.) And yet the film cracks along with a wise insider’s sense of when to lighten the proceedings with a knowing wink to the rules we all have internalized. (Early reviews here.)
One: whip-cracking prologue involving fast cars and rooftops and ridiculous peril. Check. In this case Bond may be dead. Or not.
Two: Fabulous floaty-surreal credit sequence with Bond Theme sung by current pop star. Check. Adele nails it. (Song here.)
Three: Bond is rebellious for a bit. Check. In this case he drinks a Heineken (signaling his dissolution), and takes far too long to submit to a close shave from Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris).
Four: M is both adversary and ally. Check. Veteran Judi Dench is joined by new MI6 supervisor Ralph Fiennes, as well as young Ben Whishaw as computer ace Q. (Clip here.) I maintain that Dench–who can shoot a gun– should topline the female “Expendables.” As long as it’s not called the “Expendabelles.”
Five: Bond slips into a form-fitting tux, sips a martini and drives a well-equipped car. Check. Props abound–oversize luxury watch, special gun…details I will leave to you. (Peter Howell reports on Toronto’s Bell Lighthouse Bond Collection. Apparently 007 was a hoarder.)
Six: A gorgeous femme leads Bond to a lethal and globally destructive villain–but not before some heated sex. Check. Javier Bardem, who won an Oscar for his chilling Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men,” actually exceeds expectations.There are some parallels to “The Dark Knight Rises.” First, like Bruce Wayne, Bond is physically diminished and thus more vulnerable. We’re not sure what he can do. It takes a threat to something Bond/Wayne deeply cares about to rouse him to action. There is that all-too familiar sense that our universe is menaced by malevolent chaos. In some ways the villain seems more vital and powerful than our world-weary hero.
Seven: Someone close to Bond dies. Check. Duh.
No more intel. There’s plenty more to savor.