|Skyfall is the twenty-third James Bond film, produced by Eon Productions and distributed by MGM and Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2012. It features Daniel Craig’s third performance as James Bond, and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva, the film’s antagonist. The film was directed by Sam Mendes and written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan.
The film centres on Bond investigating an attack on MI6; it transpires that the attack is part of a plot by former MI6 operative Raoul Silva to humiliate, discredit, and kill M as revenge against her for betraying him. The film sees the return of two recurring characters after an absence of two films: Q, played by Ben Whishaw, and Eve Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris. Skyfall is the last film of the series for Judi Dench, who played M, a role that she had played in the previous six films. The position is subsequently filled by Ralph Fiennes’ character, Gareth Mallory.
Mendes was approached to direct the film after the release of Quantum of Solace in 2008. Development was suspended when MGM encountered financial troubles and did not resume until December 2010; during this time, Mendes remained attached to the project as a consultant. The original screenwriter, Peter Morgan, left the project during the suspension. When production resumed, Logan, Purvis, and Wade continued writing what became the final version of the script. Filming began in November 2011 and primarily took place in the United Kingdom, China and Turkey.
Skyfall premiered in London at the Royal Albert Hall on 23 October 2012 and was released in the United Kingdom on 26 October 2012 and the United States on 9 November 2012. It was the first James Bond film to be screened in IMAX venues, although it was not filmed with IMAX cameras. The film’s release coincided with the 50th anniversary of the James Bond series, which began with Dr. No in 1962. Skyfall was positively received by critics and at the box office, grossing over $953 million worldwide. It is thus far the 17th highest grossing film of all time and has become the highest-grossing film of all time in the UK, the highest-grossing film in the James Bond series, the highest-grossing film worldwide for Sony Pictures, and the third highest-grossing film of 2012.
In Istanbul, MI6 agents James Bond and Eve chase a mercenary, Patrice, who has stolen a computer hard drive containing details of undercover agents placed in terrorist organisations by NATO states. Patrice wounds Bond in the shoulder and, as the two men fight atop a train, Eve inadvertently shoots Bond, allowing Patrice to escape. Bond falls into a river and goes missing, presumed dead.
In the aftermath of the operation, M, the head of MI6, comes under political pressure to retire from Gareth Mallory, the Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman. On her return from the meeting, MI6’s servers are breached and M receives a taunting message via computer moments before the offices explode, killing a number of employees. MI6 relocates to its emergency offices underground. Bond, having used his supposed death to retire, learns of the attack and returns to London. Although he fails a series of physical and psychological examinations, M approves his return to the field nonetheless. Shrapnel taken from a shoulder wound helps identify Patrice, and intelligence places him in Shanghai, where he is planning an assassination. Bond is ordered to identify Patrice’s employer, recover the stolen hard drive and kill Patrice.
After Patrice kills his target, he and Bond fight. Patrice falls to his death before Bond can learn of his employer. Searching Patrice’s equipment, Bond finds a gambling chip intended as payment for the assassination, which leads him to a casino in Macau. Bond approaches Sévérine, whom he witnessed as an accomplice in the assassination, and asks to meet her employer, Raoul Silva. She warns him that he is about to be killed by her bodyguards, but promises to help him if he will kill Silva. Bond defeats his attackers and joins Sévérine on her boat. They travel to an abandoned island off the coast of Macau, where they are taken prisoner by the crew and delivered to Silva. A former MI6 agent who had previously worked under M, Silva has turned to cyberterrorism, orchestrating the attacks on MI6. Silva kills Sévérine, but Bond overpowers his guards and captures Silva for removal to Britain.
At MI6’s underground headquarters, Q attempts to decrypt Silva’s laptop, but inadvertently enables it to access the MI6 systems, allowing Silva to escape from MI6 custody. Realising Silva’s capture was part of a plan to confront and kill M, Bond gives chase through the tunnel network under London. Silva attacks M during a public inquiry into her handling of the stolen hard drive. Bond arrives in time to join Mallory and Eve in repelling Silva’s attack, and M is hurried from the building by her aide, Bill Tanner. Bond drives M to Skyfall, his family estate and childhood home in Scotland. Laying a trap, he instructs Q to leave an electronic trail for Silva to follow, a decision Mallory supports.
Bond and M are met by Kincade, the Skyfall gamekeeper. The trio are only lightly armed, but they improvise a series of booby traps throughout the house. When Silva’s men arrive, Bond, M and Kincade fight off the assault with ease, although M is wounded. Silva arrives by helicopter to lead a second assault, and Bond sends M and Kincade off through a secret tunnel at the back of a priest hole to a chapel on the grounds. The second assault uses firepower from the helicopter, while Silva throws incendiary grenades into the building. Bond detonates gas canisters with a stick of dynamite and retreats down the same tunnel as M and Kincade. The resulting blast causes the helicopter to crash, destroying the house and killing most of Silva’s men. Silva survives and, spotting Kincade’s torch beam, follows Kincade and M to the chapel. He forces his gun into M’s hand, begging her to kill them both. Bond, having been delayed fighting Silva’s henchmen, arrives and kills Silva, but M succumbs to her earlier wound and dies. Following M’s funeral, Eve—formally introducing herself to Bond as Eve Moneypenny—retires from field work to become secretary for the new head of MI6, Mallory, who assumes the title of M.