Review: Skyfall

Celebrating Bond’s 50th With The Best?

I watched my first Bond movie when I was nine years old. The movie was Goldfinger and although I did not understand any of the sexual innuendo what I did get was that this James Bond guy was one smooth customer. He always had the answers and the way out of any situation, even when that situation involved a laser beam moving towards your junk. And thus began my longtime love of agent 007.

Enter 2012. The Bond film franchise is now 23 films in and celebrating its 50th anniversary. It has been four years since Quantum of Solace was released and mostly looked down on by fans that said the movie had no real emotion attached to it. Now Skyfall is here and not only makes up for the missteps of its predecessor but does something that no one really saw coming. It is the best Bond film ever made.

After a chase scene that involves motorcycling on rooftops and fisticuffs on top of a train that rivals Casino Royale’s parkour inspired opening, Bond is shot and left floating down a river. But we know this is not the end. Even though Bond is off as he puts it “enjoying death”, MI6 and more specifically M are under attack by someone from her past that has gained access to NATO’s list of undercover agents implanted throughout the world. He is slowly releasing the names of the agents and this has the British government questioning whether M is losing a step and should be forced to retire.

When a bomb goes off from within MI6 Bond returns to help find who is leading this attack. But like M, Bond’s usefulness is brought into question and must go through agent testing and through a little fudging on M’s part gets him back in the field. He tracks down a former agent of M’s named Silva, played with perfect insanity by Javier Bardem. He is back to exact revenge on M for what he calls “past sins” but she just sees as doing her job.

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While the plot may sound small for a Bond flick this movie is anything but. Make no mistake about it, Skyfall is big. Never before has a 007 film opened up so much past story on its hero or for that matter, M. This is as much her story as it is Bond’s and we all should be thankful for that because it gives Judi Dench a chance to really show the internal conflict of a person in authority when her job is watching over a country’s safety and looking out for the things that go bump in the night yet remaining responsible for the consequences of her choices.

It would be easy to say that she steals this movie away from the men but I really can’t when every major performance is just so damn good.

Daniel Craig looks to have found a new swagger for the role. The kind of Bond you knew he was going to be in Casino Royale. He is not just a suave womanizer or a pun spouting machine (I love Roger Moore’s Bond btw) but he is a character with depth. Watching him in the last half of the movie as his past is revealed shows that Bond is more than just a killing machine but a man with different layers of personality that have been molded by a life less ordinary. It is the quintessential 007 performance by which all future actors should be judged. It is that good.

The one thing that Craig’s Bond has been lacking is that defining villain. While Le Chiffre in Casino Royale was good you never really felt he would be remembered in the pantheon of great villains for the franchise like Auric Goldfinger, Red Grant or Karl Stromburg. And try and name me the villain from Quantum of Solace without scratching your head for a second (it was Dominic Greene). But Oscar winner Javier Bardem changes all that. He is a game changer. The first Bond villain which I felt a true sense of dread for everyone involved with the movie. Silva is all the best traits from previous villains mixed in with a little Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight. He is that in control, always two steps ahead. I have no problem saying I think Bardem should get his second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor from this movie.

The Bond women are more of an afterthought in this movie which is OK with me considering how much of a personal story this is for Bond and M. Berenice Marlohe’s Severine is servicable for her part. She plays Silva’s “woman acquaintance” who is basically a segue to get Bond to meet with Silva for the first time. If you are any kind of fan of this series you know her fate is sealed without surprise. Naomie Harris as MI6 agent Eve is a different story. A field agent at the beginning of the movie but is put on desk duty, she carries her own when bantering with Bond which is essential when something is revealed near the end of the film.

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Every role in this movie is an important part no matter how small it may seem. Ben Wishaw plays Bond’s new Q with a wit and confidence about him that truly makes me excited for the future of his role. Not just relegated to giving Bond exploding pens or suitcases that spit out knives, this Q is the future agent of this new technological world of espionage. Ralph Fiennes role while filming was always kept under a little bit of secrecy and for good reason. I won’t go any farther into it but know that he is very good and will be around for awhile.

I really can’t remember the last time a Bond movie was this beautiful. From Singapore to Macau to the misty fogs of Scotland, this movie’s backdrops are a cinematographer’s dream. If you have a chance I would suggest you see this in IMAX to truly see the beauty of the world that it conveys.

Skyfall brings into question Bond’s usefulness in this new computer driven world of good and bad guys. When criminals can rob banks and destroy economies from the comfort of their home is there really a need for a trigger man? With this movie franchise now in its 50th year these are questions that must be answered. Luckily for us the answer is a resounding yes. Skyfall shows how Bond is needed not just in his world of spy vs. spy but how important he remains in the world of pop culture. And as I watched Bond movies and think back to when I was nine and was entranced with suave secret agents with Walther PPK’s and 1963 Aston Martin DB5’s (which makes a comeback here) I felt that same sense of awe when I watched Skyfall. And to me, that is a special kind of movie.

Skyfall takes Bond (and M) to the past and in doing so has secured the future of the franchise. It is the most ambitious and risk taking of all of 007’s adventures and it pays off in every way. Skyfall should be talked about in the Best Picture category this year (no kidding) and is not only the best film of 2012 (so far) but is the best Bond movie ever made.

 

NERD RATING- 9.5/10

 

 

 

 


Comments

4 responses to “Review: Skyfall”

  1. […] James Bond has finally returned (here in the States anyway, you lucky folks overseas got him early) and my review of Skyfall is finally ready to go! With so much hype surrounding this movie I ended up going in with some trepidation that I would simply like the movie because everyone else is or that I would be the one of the small percentage that found it not as good as it should be. So how did Bond’s newest adventure turn out? I can say that my fears were not realized and you can read my review for Skyfall here. […]

  2. Larry Cooper Avatar
    Larry Cooper

    I would agree Scott I have watch all the Bond movies and as far as I go it is the very best Bond movie I have ever seen. It should get several awards in the movie industry…..

  3. […] year was James Bond’s 50th anniversary and with Skyfall being the best reviewed and highest grossing Bond film ever the Academy has decided to celebrate […]

  4. […] Spectre releases November 6, 2015. Read my review of Skyfall here. […]

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