If the release of 2008’s Quantum of Solace left you a little wearied by Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond, the arrival of director Sam Mendes’s take on the MI6 operative is sure to change your mind. ‘Skyfall’ manages to encompass all of the classic Bond tropes; from the fast paced action of the previous two films, again starring Craig, to the gadgetry and globe trotting of the earlier Bond films, it’s all here. Yet the film also succeeds where many others have failed before it, by offering a human face to Bond. ‘Skyfall’ is not simply just the rehash of old ideas that it perhaps might have been – given that the theatrical release date coincides with the 50th anniversary of Bond on film – instead it delves deeper than many Bond films have dared to before, offering a study into the characters of Bond as well as others that surround him.
In fact, the plot, you may argue, is one of the most personal yet, dealing with a decrepit Bond, played excellently by Daniel Craig, and his loyalty to M (Dame Judi Dench), which comes under considerable strain following a chaotic series of events. It is this relationship between Bond and M that essentially maintains the viewer’s interests throughout the film, with both actors revealing hidden depths to their characters that have rarely been explored before in previous entries into the series. These include, amongst other things, an exploration into M’s past, and how her decisions have inevitably affected Bond throughout his years of service, jeopardizing his safety.
Another key performance that is worth mentioning is that of Javier Bardem as villain Raoul Silva. And from his introductory scene to the final showdown Bardem manages to tread the line perfectly between menacing and humorously eccentric; in the process evoking the best Bond Villains of past, though suitably updated for the modern age. Rarely has there been a villain that has felt as disturbed as his, the blonde wig acting as an extension of the character rather than a wholly aesthetic decision in wardrobe. The supporting cast is equally as promising with Ralph Fiennes delivering an almost effortless performance as Mallory, whilst Ben Whishaw as Q and Albert Finney as Kincade inject some humor into the inevitably darker narrative.
A selection of other highlights come in the form of Adele’s theme, a return to the simplistic approach of Bond themes of old; as well as in the choreography of some of the major action set pieces, such as the chase through Istanbul at the beginning of the film that rivals even Casino Royale’s ambitious opening; and the non-traditional showdown between villain and 007 that is one of the finest moments of any modern Bond.
The film, however, does have some minor issues, including, for example, the appearance of some faulty CGI partway through the film; and some fantastically unrealistic feats from Craig’s Bond that almost derail the plot from its fairly authentic approach. However these do not come often enough to completely spoil the film’s aesthetic; and perhaps to lose such moments would be to do away with the fun of earlier entries into the series.
In closing the film is a return to form, and the stamp of Sam Mendes is most definitely felt on this entry into the franchise, whilst also maintaining all the trademark features and the style of previous entries. The film is a must see for any Bond fanatic, while newcomers to the series will also be able to sit back and enjoy Sam Mendes’s take on the Bond franchise.