Review: SKYFALL

[no spoilers]

It’s been five months since I first blogged about Bond’s latest outing and back then I said the following:

‘Already this looks like quite possibly the most gorgeous Bond film to date… with the tonality of Craig and the emotive & visual depth of Mendes, the third of this generation’s Bond is set to be the best one yet.’

Having just got home from catching up with Bond at London’s BFI IMAX I am ridiculously happy to report that I was 100% correct with my prediction:

SKYFALL is magnificent.

Historically, I like to keep my film reviews spoiler free. This review is no exception; there’ll be no giveaways here.

So, where do I begin? With Bond, of course.

Daniel Craig is perfect.

On form, settled in and completely existing within James Bond, when people cross him and damage the things that matter to him most, you feel his anger and his vengeful determination. The darkness (that must exist for Bond to be true) is present, but coloured with a dark humour. A flash of a wink, a half-smile – this is the 007 that has been stirring underneath Fleming’s pages since he was first committed to paper back in 1958.

It’s true: Bond has never been better.

For this to work however, our excellent hero needs an equally brilliant villain – and in Javier Bardem’s ‘Silva’, we have just that. Flirtatious, dangerous, enigmatic, and bizarrely sexually charged, Bardem delivers a performance that is reminiscent of Christopher Walken as Max Zorin (in 1985’s View to a Kill).

At first I thought it was the hair, but not so. With Silva there’s that same sense of wild destruction, that flair for the theatrical, that reminds me of Walken so. And yet, whilst Bardem never reaches the sinister heights of his career-defining turn in No Country For Old Men, the character of Silva doesn’t really demand it. He’s cunning, meticulous and driven – and a superb foil for our lead protagonist.

However if this film was ever to be defined as a two-hander, it would not be Bardem who would take the co-starring role next to Craig. No no. That role would go to Dame Judi Dench: giving us (and Bond) the most active and versatile ‘M’ we’ve ever seen – allowing her professional veneer to only just cover the maternal pride and instinct she hides throughout, Dench excels as the head of British intelligence.

In fact, I would go so far to say that SKYFALL is more about Bond’s relationship with M than it has ever been (in more ways than one).

As is standard procedure, the supporting characters are also given their fair share of the limelight. Ben Whishaw as Bond’s new Quartermaster plays it with just the right amount of humour that is fitting for the role (ie: not too much, with a distinct air of competence and respect for what is his domain and what is not). I look forward to where this goes, much.

Ralph Fiennes is surprisingly good as governmental envoy Gareth Mallory, as is Naomie Harris as Bond’s agent support, Eve. However, I think a special mention should go to Rory Kinnear, whose ‘Tanner’ is understated, under-played and every bit as believable as he should be.

Which brings us to Mendes. Sam Mendes. It has to be said:

Bond is beautiful.

Several times throughout I audibly gasped at the images thrown in front of me. From the rooftops of Istanbul through to the casinos of Macau, the splendour of Skyfall really has to be seen on the BIG screen to be appreciated (I mean it, if you can see it at the/an IMAX then do so), a fist fight in front of an electric jellyfish is a stand out.

As I type, I’m listening to the Skyfall OST on Spotify and being reminded of just how awesome and lifting it is. Reflecting backwards, and at the same time springing forward – the score is as every bit a celebration of 50 years of Bond as the film.

Visiting the world of Bond through the eyes (and ears) of Mendes is a gift. I said it before and I’ll say it again: the colours, the composition; all of it is just so visually sumptuous you can’t help but be drawn to this film.

It enraptures and snares, it casts all of what you know aside and starts again all over without fear and without folly.

This is not the Bond you used to know, but in a way – it’s the Bond you’ve always known.

Skyfall is incredible.

When the final credits roll, you’ll wonder how the 50 years of Bond on film have passed so quickly and yet you’re left kind of knowing exactly how the next 50 years are going to roll.

Well done, 007.

 

Very well done indeed.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Review: SKYFALL”

  1. “This is not the Bond you used to know, but in a way – it’s the Bond you’ve always known” pretty much sums it up for me, I’m pleased to see a little bit of Roger Moore’s ‘humour’ return and the kimodo (sp) dragons are an awesome touch. Javier Bardem is my favourite villain, by a long way, and M is exceptional, my only hesitant feeling about the film is that I think we lost a bit of the grit and darkness found in Casino Royale to a slightly more ‘Hollywood’ style film.

    Fantastic review, perfect read after an excellent film.

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  2. Wonderfully written review James. Off to see this tomorrow and am now that little bit more excited having read your comparison of the new villain to Zorin. As you rightly point out, Walken’s peculiar brand of unhinged energy puts him among the best – and a good villain is the foil that makes a Bond.

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  3. WhatleyDude,

    I’ve been a Bond man since the first film I was allowed to see in a theater, Man With The Golden Gun. I was vehemently opposed to Craig as Bond, and then I saw Casino Royale. Wow.
    So close to the man/icon that Fleming created.
    With all due respect to Connery, Moore and Brosnan, Craig may portray the most captivating Bond of all.
    This film hasn’t yet been released in the US, but I suspect it will be one of the few films I will see in the theater this year.
    Great review.

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