Saturday, 13 October 2012

Skyfall Review

Director: Sam Mendes

Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney

Plot: After a botched mission in Turkey, James Bond (Craig) is assumed dead. Meanwhile, back in London, M (Dench) struggles with a terrorist hacker who brings about destruction and death. Bond returns to the U.K to help find and reprimand the villain, Raoul Silva (Bardem), but finds the criminal to be smarter and more cunning than MI6 imagined.

Often seeped in a golden hue, reminding audiences of Bond’s 50th anniversary, Skyfall magnificently envisions everything prized for a James Bond outing. From beginning to end director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Rodger Deakins highlight the famous styles of this series with sterling poise. As Casino Royale fitfully revitalised the character, to which Quantum of Solace jeopardised once more, Skyfall recaptures what Craig’s portrayal has meant for the continuation, and how tradition works far more efficiently than atypical experiments with the form.

Quantum was condemned for its likeness to the other spy series, Bourne, and whilst one scene of Bond “enjoying death” appears like a rehashed clip from The Bourne Supremacy, everything else about Skyfall harks back to the treasured design. The music, the costumes and the exotic locations are all rightfully embedded into the movie whilst the British spirit reigns tremendously throughout. It’s not so common to see Bond running around London (most chase sequences set in a foreign country) but something about the U.K capital becoming the hot-spot for action feels extremely exciting.

Set pieces all throughout Bond’s 23rd adventure are full of heart-pounding tension, drama and conflict. One scene in particular where Javier Bardem’s Raol Silva runs amok through London is a pure edge-of-your-seat moment. What makes that particular scene excellent is Bardem as the ruthless villain. His Oscar win for No Country Old Men showed us how well he can embody evil and whilst Silva is not as heartless as Chigurh, Silva’s just as relentless and unstoppable. He fits into the Bond universe perfectly – devilishly candid and menacing about what he means to inflict on MI6. The only issue with Skyfall’s presentation of the baddie is there is too little of him – Bardem laps up every scene with his cattish tongue and impacts the story with great omnipotence and is sorely missed when off screen.

The team at MI6, who are given much more ground to tread in Mendes’ film, create a comforting and likeable environment that makes their peril all the more worrying. Ben Whishaw joining as the new Q and Naomie Harris as field agent Eve are given deliciously sarcastic and witty dialogue to become great foils to Bond’s ego, building up a humanity that, since Craig’s start, grows more realistic and touching as the story progresses.

Mendes’ take on Bond is full of loving reminders to what makes the series so adored and adorned. After getting used to Craig as James Bond, Skyfall confidently explores the character’s back-story (if only partially), brings back his beloved Aston Martin DB5 and celebrates him for the British icon that he justifiably has become. Perhaps not as special as Casino Royale but like Craig’s first outing as Bond, you will want to revisit it time and time again. Skyfall is superbly directed, written and acted and gracefully opens the door for more; to quote the start of the end credits, “James Bond will return”...and hooray for that.


By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on Flickering Myth

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