I’ll admit that I’m not overly familiar with the older Bond films; in fact, I think the only ones I’ve seen have been those starring Pierce Brosnan and Craig. I’ve been a fan of the latter's turn at the iconic character and highly enjoyed 2006’s Casino Royale (minus a ridiculous poker scene). To a lesser degree I also enjoyed 2008’s Quantum of Solace, which had an overlapping storyline to its predecessor, but in my opinion Skyfall, which did not continue the story established in two before it, proved to be the best of Craig's three.
Here’s the premise of the new film as described by IMDb: “Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.”
It amazes me that the Bond formula continues to translate into success after all these years. Sauvé secret agent pursues terrorists while seducing beautiful women without an emotional connection—ok, well I guess I can understand; anyway, this film was much the same, which means there wasn’t a great deal of originality. It was the same old story told in a different way, but it still proved entertaining. Skyfall wasn’t mind blowing by any means, but it lived up to expectations, or at least my expectations.
The first thing I liked was the opening song by Adele, who I believe is tremendous musical talent. The Bond films always open with a big action sequence followed by an original song, and Skyfall’s (written and performed by Adele) is one of the best I’ve heard. The other highlight for me were the characters and cast. A lot of Bond films have inane characters, which can be made all the more ridiculous by miscasting. That wasn’t the case here.
Craig was great as bond. His unobtrusive aggression is perfect for the role. He's suave but possesses a bevy of other more prevalent qualities such as stoicism, fortitude, and levelheadedness. Craig isn’t your traditional dark-haired Bond, and in my opinion his casting was a risk that has paid big dividends.
|The buddies for Skyfall, Ben (L) and Carsen (R).|
I also loved Judi Dench as M; what’s more, I loved that she played a major role in Skyfall. In Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale she was merely a supporting character that popped in every now and again, but in Skyfall she is one of the three major characters alongside Bond and villain Silva, played brilliantly by Javier Bardem. If you like the “Dench Stench”, then you’ll get a big ole whiff in Skyfall. Speaking of Bardem, his character was eclectic, flamboyant and set on revenge, an interesting combination of qualities for a lead villain. Throw in some funky hair ala No County for Old Men, and Bardem is once again at his finest.
I was also impressed with Naomie Harris, who you may recall from 28 Days Later, as Bond girl Eve; Ralph Fiennes as M6’s Gareth Mallory; and Ben Whishaw as the new, younger Q. I mentioned in my review of Cloud Atlas that Whishaw is a superb talent and one of the best up-and-coming actors in the industry. It was nice seeing him land such as iconic role. Finally, Albert Finney was good as the Scottish innkeeper Kincade, who had a special connection to Bond’s past. Finney is a fine actor, but he’s cut from the same cloth as my favorite actor, Brian Cox; as such, I can’t help but think of what it’d have been like had Cox landed the role.
I did have one small qualm with the film, which was the story’s shift from the theft of Skyfall, a list undercover agents, in order to focus on Silva's revenge on M. The one storyline may have played into the other, but it seemed like the former was sacrificed, and almost dropped, at the expense of the latter. Both were interesting storylines, but I think the Skyfall plot could have been fleshed out more.
Skyfall isn’t going to win any awards, but it was an excellent chapter in the Bond saga; in fact, I think it was the best since Craig took over the role. I feel I got my money’s worth and look forward to the next one.
Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 75%