As far as the on-screen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s James Bond saga goes, it’s had its fair share of ups and downs over the years. From questionable Bond actors (Pierce Brosnan anyone?) to production pauses, due to movie studio debt, the much loved spy series regardless still manages to draw audiences from far and wide. With that said, the latest addition to the franchise could well be its finest, as well as offering the game changing reinvigoration it so desperately needed.
A plot that ultimately becomes one engulfed in revenge, retaliation and get back, James Bond, once again played by Daniel Craig, begins on a hiatus inspired by an unfortunate event fueled by trust issues. Almost disappearing in to obscurity, the drink and drug dependent undercover agent sees that his beloved Country is in dire straights so pulls himself together enough to see what he can do to help.
MI6 is attacked by a crazed and deranged environmentalist, after a hard drive containing the names of many 00 operatives is lost, and head of the 00 unit, M (Judi Dench), is forced into disrepute and summoned to appear in court to explain the state of the Country’s national security. With her past coming back to haunt her, M is revisited by an ex-member of her team who she was once forced to give up. Brilliantly played by Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men), Silva’s individual hate for M causes him to play a game of cat and mouse while the end result is simple – wanting to torment her for what she did to him.
Trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together, Bond and M’s relationship is strained at times with their vulnerability on display throughout. Comedic moments that include some vintage Bond references – be on the look out for a very special car with a very special button, and hilarious quips bring you closer to the pair. Your understanding of the James Bond origins also become a lot clearer.
More personal than any other Bond movie has ever been willing to go, Skyfall is an education throughout. Learning the origins of a young 007, he is forced to confront his past on more than one occasion. Revisiting his boyhood home, which later becomes a Home Alone-esque battlefield complete with nail filled lightbulb bombs and exploding floorboards, you’re privy to a side of the spy not seen before at such a exclusive level. You’re made to feel for the lead in a way similar to that of Bruce Wayne in Batman, both orphans.
While the beautiful Shanghai backdrops and gritty Turkish landscapes are an essential part to the script, the grey London streets are without doubt the show stealer. With more screen time given to the London Undergrounds, court buildings, and river settings, those who live, work, or even visit London on the regular will feel a tad bit sentimental upon viewing the movie. Bond becomes realer than real thanks to the sweeping shots of the Country‘s capital.
With the trademark action-packed opening not giving you a second to breathe, a few car chases, bike chases, train jumps, judgement calls, some digger destruction, and an unsuccessful sniper shot later, the scene’s finale leaves you with your heart in your mouth and an excitable outlook for what the rest of the movie has in store.
While questions were originally raised about the choice to cast Daniel Craig as Bond, with three movies firmly under his belt it’s probably fair to say that you couldn’t picture anyone else donning the signature tuxedo. With Skyfall he really steps up to the challenge of reinstating the type of dominance you come to expect from a Bond flick. His emotionless facial features are cold but effective. As a character Bond on this go round is a step behind his former self. However, thanks to Craig’s physique and on-screen persona you’re constantly rooting for him to overcome his personal demons. Relating to Bond as a man has never been as easy as this.
The death of a main character will both shock and surprise fans. However, throughout the movie you’re witness to a plot that makes this loss an essential element in the evolution of the franchise. The changing of the guard also sets up another introduction in the form of Miss Moneypenny – Bond’s flirtatious office bound assistant.
With only a few moments that might be considered less-than-great; one being the non-Daniel Craig lookalike stuntman easily spotted during the opening bike scene, and another being the, at times, dry acting courtesy of one Ralph Fiennes, to find anything else remotely wrong you’d need to pick at it like nits in a pre-school.
In closing, Skyfall revisits a James Bond content with self-destruction but adamant on resurrection. Coincidentally enough it’s not just the character whose resurrection is obvious. Think back to when Marvel decided to remake and restructure their movies in order to set the stage for a more successful franchise, that in turn brought about the Avengers movie. Skyfall is much the same in the sense that Bond is dissected as an individual for the viewer to feel closer to, and then the rejig of characters sets the scene for an array of follow up movies. Aside from the action sequences and female eye candy, laughs and in-jokes play a major part in the movie’s general make up.
Director Sam Mendes took a risk by offering something a little less simplistic, but after one watch there’s no doubt that it paid off.