It was 50 years ago that Ian Flemming’s James Bond character was adapted into film with the franchise’s arguably most popular and recognizable lead Sean Connery. Connery starred in 6 Bond films, including the first 5, and was succeeded by George Lazenby [1 film], Roger Moore [7 films], Timothy Dalton [2 films], Pierce Brosnan [4 films, and now Daniel Craig in his 3rd film. Whether or not Craig continues on as the infamous secret agent, despite some apparent intent to end with Skyfall [story], or if the interest of Idris Elba turns into something [story], one way or another, Bond will be living long past his 50’s.
In Skyfall, Bond decides to return to action after apparent death in order to track down and stop a threat to MI6 from M’s past.
The Daniel Craig era of James Bond was really, in my mind, the first time the franchise tried to be something else, something new. 2006’s Casino Royale was dark and gritty, a completely different atmosphere than any other installment before it, and it really worked. It is largely considered the best Bond film in ages, and I can’t disagree. The follow up, Quantam of Solace in 2008, tried to not only continue the stylings of Casino Royale but continue the story, as well, which I also don’t think has been done before, but this time the result was a muddled mess. Now, finally, the era continues after the company found itself bankrupt for a couple of years, and Skyfall doesn’t try to complete any sort of trilogy, but to be it’s own installment.
Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ takes us into a completely new Craig Bond film. This time around Craig brings a whole character to the screen. In the previous films Craig was a hard shell of a man, not accessible by his peers or employers [or the audience]. This time around there is considerable depth. This is the first time that I have seen age and physical ailments come so much into play in a Bond film. While still clearly being an incredibly in-shape man, Craig’s Bond is getting closer to retirement and has to battle through some in-the-field injuries.
Daniel Craig as the tired, graying James Bond.
The other lead role also brings something that the previous two films were missing: a real villain. Javier Bardem plays Silva, a former employee/agent for M, who has unprecedented technological capabilities along with many other skills. Bardem is probably best known for his also villainous role in No Country For Old Men for which he won an Oscar, and he brings an equally strange and disturbing character to Skyfall. Being somehow both flirty and frightening, Bardem brings a spooky range to this character, creating the most memorable Bond villain I have seen.
Judi Dench reprises her role as M, the leader of MI-6. She is classic M, for she has been doing it forever. Ralph Fiennes plays Gareth Mallory, a government employee who is brought in to find out what is happening with MI-6 and the troubles that M and Silva have brought. Filling out the MI-6 team are Ben Winshaw [who I am quickly becoming a fan of after this and Cloud Atlas] as the young, new-aged ‘Q’, Naomie Harris as fellow operative Eve, and Rory Kinner as Tanner.
This movie was able to achieve two great and completely different things: bringing classic Bond characteristics and material, and creating it’s own material. The opening sequence is a classic Bond/action-film chase scene with cars, motorcylces, and train running, yet has it’s own new touches thrown in. Not only are most all of the classic Bond moments included, but they all have their own little twist, usually comedic and always successful: the shaken, not stirred martini; the car; the girls; the gadgets; “Bond, James Bond”. All of these were really fun to see after having two films previously trying to do their own thing. There was even some Home Alone peppered in, along with plenty of explosions and gun shoot-outs to satisfy any and all action fans.
I love the way that director Sam Mendes made this movie with such big scale. The camera work and the scenery are all awesome and perfect for a Bond movie. I think this is the most visually appealing Bond movie ever, and it does so mostly without special effects, but rather spectacular locations and lighting. The story of the film also finds a personal level that really only accomplished in Casino Royale. While most other Bond films were pretty bland and straightforward, Skyfall has depth and importance in it’s story. The ending of the film is just perfect in it’s ambiguity, leaving space to take the franchise in several directions. As Bond says himself, “It’s the circle of life”.
4/4 – Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, and Sam Mendes all combine to create Skyfall, both a classic installment in the Bond trilogy and an refreshing, top notch movie with quality visuals, story, and characters. The best Bond film I have seen.