Dec 11

Skyfall {Film Review}

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After the underwhelming reaction to Quantum of Solace in 2008, critics and audiences were worried for the James Bond series. It left us feeling cold and empty, much like the character of James Bond that was portrayed on-screen. So there was a lot of work needed to bring the franchise back on its own feet and convince audiences there’s enough room for Bond to keep going! With Sam Mendes hired as the director of the 23rd Bond film, people started raising their eyebrows and their curiosity peaked as more talent were hired to the project.

Now celebrating 50 years of Bond (longest running movie series in history), the main questions on our minds were; does this Bond film deliver a respectful tribute to the series (more so than Die Another Day celebrating 40th anniversary in 2002) and do the filmmakers make up for their mistakes from Quantum and bring back the Bond we’ve been waiting for? The answer to both of those questions is a solid YES! Bond IS back!

The film ignores the events that have happened in the previous two films and goes straight to a different film altogether. The story starts with Bond (Daniel Craig) in Istanbul on the hunt for a missing hard-drive that contains names of every agent in terrorist organisations around the world and is accompanied by Eve (Naomie Harris). Meanwhile, M (Judi Dench) overhears their progress but the mission goes horribly wrong as Eve accidentally shoots Bond as ordered by M and the assassin escapes with the hard-drive. Months later, M and MI6 get attacked from a mysterious terrorist that seems to have a grudge against her. Bond eventually returns to England and is recruited back on the field. He then follows a trail that leads him to Shanghai and to an anonymous island where he meets Silva (Javier Bardem).

The film has all the trademarks of what you expect from a James Bond film; the one liners, the beautiful Bond girls, the stunning locations and the egomaniac villain. Unlike the typical plot where the villain holds the world to ransom or plans to start a World War; Silva has a personal vendetta up his sleeve and makes his character more threatening (even his presence is felt before he shows up). Through-out the film, Bond is treated like an old relic in a 21st Century world. It’s a daring but interesting question Sam Mendes not just puts to the character of Bond but even asks the question as mentioned earlier; is Bond still relevant in today’s generation? To which M delivers a speech in a meeting that time is inevitable but the soul still goes strong. Basically referring to the franchise and something I admire that a blockbuster even asks that question.

Daniel Craig excels as Bond, delivering the witty wisecracks like he’s able to do it blindfolded. He has definitely moved on from being cold and calculative to a Bond that is likeable but still retaining the efficiency as a double-0 agent. Judi Dench really delivers a great performance as M, even bringing more meat to the character than she ever has been since her debut in GoldenEye. She feels the weight as her time is nearly up but also feeling responsible for her recent actions. Her scenes with Daniel Craig are one of the highlights, as they interact with each other as they’re mother and son they both never had. Both Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe really do check the list on being a Bond girl; they are both absolutely stunning! Harris makes Eve a convincing character, showing being a field agent isn’t all that glamourised and there are consequences to her actions. Though the weakest part of the film are the Bond girls, they don’t have enough screen-time to feel beneficial or make an impact to the story (especially with Marlohe’s Sévérine). Ben Whishaw as ‘Q’ made an impressive performance, making his take on the character his own but still retaining what we love about ‘Q’ (requesting Bond return a gadget in pristine order). His first scene with Bond establishes the type of relationship they will have; a banter between the old and the new but no matter on their differences, they still go hand-in-hand. Though Javier Bardem as Silva steals the spot-light and delivers one of the most memorable Bond villains in the series’ history. He brings the same intensity as he performed the character of Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men but also making Silva very flamboyant which makes it very fun to watch and can tell Bardem is having a blast playing the role.

The film looks absolutely breathtaking and no surprise it is shot by Roger Deakins (previous credits include True Grit (2010), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Shawshank Redemption). One of the many things that have been improved from Quantum is; the action sequences are wide and stationary so we can tell what is going on (further proving that you don’t need to make it hand-held and have kinetic editing to make your action scenes to be intense). One particular scene that made my mouth drop was when Bond follows the assassin he encountered earlier in Shanghai, leads up to a skyscraper and the entire floor is only lit from neon lights from opposite buildings. It really shows Deakins’ talent and I applaud Mendes on applying this amount of artistic license in a Bond film (and has my vote for Best Cinematography during the awards season). Thomas Newman replaces regular Bond composer David Arnold and delivers a classic Bond score but also feels very modern (using synthesizers when Bond arrives in Shanghai).

Overall; Sam Mendes delivers a Bond film we’ve been waiting for and actually feels like what a Bond film should! The entire cast and crew should be applauded to their work, bringing the top of their game and truly showing respect to the series. My personal favourite blockbuster of 2012 and one of the best Bond films ever made. Highly Recommended!

5 out of 5