After a marathon of 22 Bond films over the course of around 4 days, I went straight to my local cinema to see the latest in the franchise, number 23 – Skyfall.
The film was released almost a month after it’s UK premiere here in Australia, and quite honestly the wait was testing my limits. I am not sure why I decided to do the marathon so close to the release date, it was just one of my ‘not so bright’ ideas that I actually pulled off. With my anticipation for Skyfall taking over, I actually felt experiencing all the Bond films would keep me in check and I’d be able to see it with all of those films fresh in mind.
So how did Skyfall fit into the realm of Bond? To be perfectly honest, it was the perfect Bond film!
The story here, actually focuses on MI6 being under an attack – more specifically M (Judi Dench). James Bond (Daniel Craig) finds himself in an odd position, after his latest mission having severe consequences. Despite certain difficulties, Bond goes back in action to find who is responsible for the attacks, which leads him to a figure from M’s past in Silva (Javier Bardem).
I’ve kept my synopsis purposely vague for those who haven’t yet seen it. It is not an easy task to keep this spoiler free, so please forgive me as I continue this review being vague.
The film starts off with a high-octane attitude, and we are smack bang in the middle of an action scene as 007 and another agent Eve (Naomie Harris) are in pursuit of a bad guy. The bad guy has stolen a hard drive that contains the names of undercover NATO operatives, and in the wrong hands the consequences will be deadly. After this sequence, the film gives us the main titles (amazing to look at by the way) and the theme song performed by Adele (that I truly love). Then we see M, who witnesses MI6 headquarters exploding before her very eyes. And our story continues on from there, with M in hot water and answering to Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes).
Bond in time discovers who is behind everything, and we are given (in my humble opinion of course) a villain that is a standout amongst the group. Silva is quite the character; he has motivation for his actions, and ones that we actually can understand. His vendetta is just that, a vendetta – this villain doesn’t want to take over the world and he doesn’t belong to a mysterious organization. I liked the character, and it does share similarities with one of my other favourite villains Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) from GoldenEye. I think those things actually make them both memorable villains, fleshed out ones that we can almost understand.
The set pieces are excellent, we go to exotic locations as per the norm with Bond films. The action is handled superbly, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout it. I was also surprised as to where the film was headed, and that final act is brilliant. Skyfall is perhaps one of the best looking films of the year, in thanks to an element that excited me, Roger Deakins as the Director Of Photography. The man is a legend in the business, and he never ceases to amaze me, Skyfall better have a nomination for Best Cinematography come Oscar time.
Acting wise, everyone does a fantastic job. Daniel Craig is Bond as far as I am concerned, he owns the role and he really felt right at home here. I think he really conveyed everything about the character and even reached a lot deeper considering what this film reveals about the character. Judi Dench who I have always thought made an excellent M, gives us her best performance in the Bond franchise. *Minor Spoiler* M is the Bond Woman for this film, and the woman owns the role and puts in a truly fantastic performance. *End Spoiler*. This film gives us a cool sidekick (with a twist) in Eve (Naomie Harris), and I absolutely adored the woman. She was fun, charismatic and I do look forward to seeing her character in future Bond films.
Skyfall also brings back the character of Q (now played by Ben Whishaw) and he was my absolute favourite of the new additions. I felt the Craig films were missing Q, and this updated version fits. Ralph Fiennes also felt right at home, with a character that will reoccurring. Bérénice Marlohe was fine, as a woman that kind of helps Bond and her fate will not be surprising. Albert Finney was a great surprise, and I’d love to see him back. Now on to Javier Bardem, I thought the man nailed the role and he put in a fantastic performance. Silva surely had his moments of perhaps camp but it suited him, he was charismatic and mad. It was not as over the top as I had been led to believe and I think he hit all those right moments, with one in particular actually leaving me unsettled.
Sam Mendes did a great job as director; it was a choice I never doubted. Skyfall in my opinion is one of the best Bond films, it is action packed, fun, full of great characters and I will be watching it often once it hits blu-ray.
For more Bond goodness, check out my live tweet sessions for all 22 Bond films: