What You Need to Know:
Daniel Craig returns to the role of MI6 agent, James Bond, under the watchful eye of Sam Mendes (Jarhead). He is joined at MI6 by the perrenial Dame Judi Dench and newcomers Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, Ben Whishaw as Q, and Naomie Harris as Eve. MI6 must take on the mysterious and sinister Silva played by Javier Bardem. This film chronicles the story as Bond hunts down a terrorist who has stolen a hard drive which contains the identities of all NATO agents currently undercover.
Warning: I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but sometimes it is inevitable. Keep that in mind as you proceed past the jump.
What I Thought:
Let me get this out of the way. I am not the most hardcore Bond fan, but I have grown up watching Bond since I was a child. I watched Sean Connery escape impossible death traps and utilize intricate gadgets. I caught glimpses of these movies in bits and chunks. The first Bond movie I truly remember watching was Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan. A new love was born with both the movie and the game. Brosnan was the Bond of my generation, but I sought out an opportunity to rewatch Connery and Moore. I fell away from the film franchise as the Brosnan films progressed, but my interested was piqued when I heard about the reboot starring Daniel Craig. I was pleasantly surprised by the changes in tone and feel of these new Bond films. Where the Bond films had become full of pastiche and caricature, Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale went deeper into the character of Bond. Quantum of Solace continues the story of the inexperienced and damaged superspy as he seeks revenge for the loss of his love. It also set up the criminal organization Quantum, similar to the classic SMERSH. And now we are to Skyfall, the film which celebrates the 50 year anniversary by branching the modern films and the classic films masterfully.
Daniel Craig leads an amazing cast as he revisits the layered and dramatic version of James Bond that he had begun in Casino Royale. Bond has seemingly moved on from the trauma of the first film. Bond has changed drastically from the last film, but he is still recognizable as a cold man of mystery. Craig’s modern portrayal of Bond begins to sync up with the suave and charismatic Bond of Connery era espionage.
As I mentioned before, Goldeneye was the first full Bond film I enjoyed. With that movie, I was introduced to the MI6 matron, M played by Dame Judi Dench. In previous films, I never truly got a sense of who M. This film does a good job of giving M an identity. Dench brings the stern yet motherly role to life as she scolds and motivates Bond.
Javier Bardem plays arguably the most memorable Bond villain in nearly twenty years. Silva is a traditional Bond villain in his eccentricities, but he is a modern Bond villain in all the ways the mdoern movies have pushed. Modern Bond villains have motivations not reliant solely on control of the world, and Silva’s motivations are incredibly stirring and follows the theme of the film.
At this point in the new series, we’ve reached the second act of Bond’s new story. He’s entered a new world. Technology has taken over the world of espionage, and Bond’s traditional methods are old hat. This film also succeeds in transitioning Bond from the original films to the modern films in a way that Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace did not. Both of the previous Daniel Craig films dive into the new narrative which they are telling. Skyfall leaves room to address the changes made in the modern movies and make references to the world of the previous films. Any moment involving the Aston Martin is proof of that. The thematic transition from old-fashioned to modern does feel a little ham-handed as the script continuously has characters mentioning it, from Ben Whishaw’s modern Q to the dark and sinister Silva.
Credit must also be given to veteran cinematographer, Roger Deakins. From the opening shot of Bond silhouetted in a doorway to a closing shot featured in the trailers and screenshot above, Deakins lights the world of this darker, less extravagant Bond in a way that accentuates the secrets of the spy world and accentuates the seriousness of the story. Look at any shot in the trailer and witness the work of a legend in filmmaking.
You may have been burned by Quantum of Solace, but you’d be remiss to pass on this installment in the Bond film franchise. Fans of both versions of Bond will enjoy this film as it brings the best qualities of both together. Masterful performances from stars Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, and Javier Bardem. The 50-year anniversary is marked well by a film that helps to establish a new Bond franchises in a way that some believe Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace failed. I also have to point out that despite a spoiler that has been covered by many of the rumor sites, it didn’t make the story point any less poignant or meaningful. An era has ended, but the new era looks to be set on strong and sure footing.