Film Review: Skyfall

Bond is well and truly back. After the disappointment of Quantum of Solace, Bond needed to make an impressive comeback. As though the pressure wasn’t high enough, but Skyfall also comes when Bond is celebrating his fiftieth birthday. What 007 needed was a film that not only celebrated the last fifty years, but also brought something fresh to the table. Skyfall well and truly ticks both boxes, by taking Bond to places he’s never been before, and setting things up beautifully for the future.

The main problem with Quantum of Solace was that it took the pulsating action scenes of Casino Royale, but forgot to bring an interesting plot with it. In fact anyone who can remember or explain the plot of Quantum deserves a medal. A lot of people blamed the director Marc Foster, who up until that point had only had experience directing lower budget dramas. Skyfall director Sam Mendes hasn’t exactly had experience directing action movies, but you still felt that Bond would be safe in his hands. And that perhaps we would finally be able to get to the nitty gritty of Daniel Craig’s incarnation.

During a blistering pre-credits sequence, James Bond is killed. This is hardly a spoiler. He does of course survive in a very Bond-like way, washing up in a tropical climate where he can “enjoy death” with lots of alcohol and lots of sex. He decides to come back from the dead however when he hears that a group of MI6 officers have been killed after M (Judi Dench) lost a disk containing their secret identities. The disk has fallen into the hands of Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M’s past. So it is up to Bond once again to stop a criminal mastermind, before the whole nation comes under threat.

There have been a lot of whispers and rumours that Daniel Craig could in fact be nominated in the Best Actor category at the upcoming Oscars. Given Craig’s performance it’s not surprising that people would consider a nomination likely. We see Bond in a way we never have before. He’s not just put under the microscope, but he’s also presented as a man in his twilight. His time away has obviously left him a little out of shape, but from what we see of his training he’s a man struggling to keep up.

Bond is not the only one who comes under severe scrutiny. We have been waiting a while for their to be a Bond film worthy of Dame Judi’s outstanding acting abilities, and at last we have one. She plays a considerably more central role here than ever before, struggling to hide her guilt over causing the death of some of her own officers. M is also entering her final years, with new government officer Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) trying to force her into retirement. And of course Javier Bardem is as superb as ever as Silva. A modern day creepy maniac with the look of an old fashioned villain, Bardem helps Skyfall succeed in an are where only films like The Dark Knight have previously: to have a convincing hero, and a memorable villain.

Given that 2012 marks Bond’s fiftieth anniversary, it would have been very easy for director Sam Mendes and screenwriter John Logan to play to the gallery with a few nudges and winks towards the previous catalogue of films. Instead Mendes gives Logan plenty of room to explore the Bond psyche in ways we haven’t seen before. The final act of the film, which takes place in Scotland, contains more insightful information about Bond than all of the previous films put together.

Even though Mendes takes Bond into new territory, there are of course flourishes of traditional 007 style. There is one scene in particular when, while tracking down Silva, Bond and M decide to take a back-up mode of transport. This leads to the reveal of one of the franchise’s most famous gizmos. M brings a little comedy to the scene by mocking something that obviously means a lot to Bond, but in all honesty you should be smiling anyway. If your not, then simply don’t have a soul.

Another moment comes during the pulsating pre-credits sequence, where Bond tears apart Istanbul while tracking down a man thought to be in possession of the disk containing the identities of MI6 agents. Bond starts off in a jeep, then on a bike, then on the roof of a train, before finally tearing the roof off said train with a crane. He completes the melee by jumping from the crane into the now roofless compartment, and rearranges his cuffs before continuing. He destroys half of Turkey, but still takes a moment to make sure his suit still looks smart. Yes, Bond is well and truly back.

Image reproduced from 007.com
Video reproduced from YouTube / SonyPictures

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About Eric Wood

Eric Wood is 21 years old, from Bury in Greater Manchester, and a graduate of Salford University where he studied Journalism and English Literature. His first novel comes out later in the year, and he begins work directing his first feature length movie in the summer. Eric absolutely adores all forms of writing and loves movies so he’s the ideal film critic. His greatest inspiration for many years has been Michael Crichton, as Crichton has written novels, non-fiction, screenplays, and directed movies. Eric would love to be able to achieve all of those things in my lifetime.
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