Four years after Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig returns as 007. This time he is facing an enemy from M’s past and the man is far more dangerous than anything Bond has faced before.
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Berenice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw.
Run Time: 143 min.
US Release: 09 November 2012
UK Release: 26 October 2012 German Release: 01 November 2012
James Bond is aging, the British Ministry is evaluating the need of an MI6 and a dangerous man in the shadows comes out to terrorize England. Welcome back to my James Bond review series that will lead up to my Spectre analysis this Friday. Skyfall is the 50th anniversary movie of the spy series and Sam Mendes successfully reinvented this iconic character and gave him the backstory we never saw before.
I was not sure what to expect when walking into the theatre, I have seen good and atrocious Bond’s and Quantum of Solace counted to neither one. What I do remember though is how incredibly satisfied I left the theatre, because Skyfall took 007 back to the Casino Royale era and gave it much more.
--- WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAIN SPOILERS ---
Bond’s (Craig) latest assignment ends badly and MI6 loses a list containing the name and faces of undercover agents. Once the SIS headquarters are victims of a bombing act, James is forced to return to duty, while the ministry questions M’s (Dench) authority and Gareth Mallory (Fiennes) is sent to evaluate situation. 007 is sent to find the man responsible and follows a trail leading to the beautiful Severine (Marlohe) and the mysterious Silva (Bardem). But what Silva reveals to Bond will strain his loyalty towards M.
Everything about this movie was great! The story, characters and dialogue were superb and the cinematography as well as the music had been immaculate. There has been little to nothing I could criticise about this film because every little detail was set-up and presented with an incredible passion for the character and his story. The movie focused more on the characters than on action sequences, but for the story they were trying to tell, I found it to be the correct choice.
Skyfall presented us once again with a very human James Bond; he is not bulletproof as we see during the chase scene of the opening act when he gets shot in the shoulder. He is not an emotional cripple and the fact that M was ready to dispose of him that easy did hurt him. During the scene in bed with a woman, while he was declared dead, showed James not only abusing alcohol and painkillers, but his facial expression also shows that he is dealing with the things he did, during his days as an agent.
The constant talk and banter about Bond getting too old for the job mirrored how the ministry sees the agent program as antique and useless in modern times. If not during Casino Royale, it is in this spy flick where Daniel Craig proved once and for all that he is the Bond Fleming visualised in his novels.
The villain played by Javier Bardem is one of my top three favourites. He and Bond are two different sides of the same coin, as he pointed out in the film. Driven insane when M dispatched of him for his ruthless methods, as she did with Bond when she gave Moneypenny the order to shoot, this psychotic lunatic took his time to set up his plan for revenge. His relationship to James reminds me very much of that between Sherlock and Moriarty.
M has never been fleshed out more as in this movie. In some sort of way, Skyfall is her story of mistakes that are now, shortly before her retirement, coming back to bite her. Judi Dench gave an excellent performance which lead to a heartbreaking end to her character.
The various dialogues are my favourite part of Skyfall, because they give the film so much more depth and some light humour to counterbalance the grim and dark scenes. The psychological test at the MI6 bunker, re-evaluating James psychological stage, or the conversations between Q and Bond (referencing the over the top gadgets from previous Bond films in a joke) were written and performed really well! This also leads me to give my respect to Ben Wishaw, simply because the guy did a tremendous task depicting Q.
Like I stated before the visuals of Skyfall are perfect, starting from the opening act, where instead of the gun barrel scene we get a blurred dark corridor. Once the lens focuses, Bond appears from the shadows with a drawn gun. The cold blue neon colours of the jellyfish in the background only illuminate the Shanghai office fight that plays fully in the darkness. This is one of the finest imageries I have seen in the movie.
A similar scene, taking place in the shadows of the night once again, also stole my breath. The last scene of the last act is only lit by the orange glow of the burning Skyfall residence.
Lastly, the music in this 23rd Bond film is mind-blowing. The theme song performed by Adele reaches easily the top five of my favourite Bond themes. Composer Thomas Newman also brought back the classic tunes of the Sean Connery era, when Bond changes vehicles in the last act. The old Aston Martin DB5 combined with the barrel scene theme brought back nostalgic moments of my childhood.
Verdict: Skyfall has everything a Bond movie should have; grounded and relatable characters, jaw dropping choreographed action, a beautiful Bond Girl and great dialogues. This is my favourite Bond flick, with Casino Royale getting a close second place. I give Skyfall a full 10 out of 10 score.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Skyfall and I will go watch Spectre tonight. My review for it should be up on Friday, so if you are interested check it out. What did you think of Skyfall? Could it be the best Bond? Leave a comment below and as always, thank you very much for reading!