What We ThoughtGenre: Action, Adventure, Crime
What We Liked :Fantastic Story, Solid Performances, Superb Cinematography
What We Disliked:Lackluster "Bond" Girl
Is Skyfall the best Bond movie ever made? It might be.
Never count James Bond out. Skyfall is the 23rd installment of James Bond on the franchises 50th anniversary and it might just be the best one yet. Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) takes the helm this time and delivers a fantastic entry in the series, showing more about Bond than ever before. It’s been far too long since Bond has appeared on the big screen and Skyfall is worth the wait.
Skyfall begins with a familiar chase scene. Bond (Daniel Craig) and new Bond girl, Eve (Naomie Harris), are on hot pursuit of terrorist who has acquired the identities of all the MI6 agents. Bond seems to have things mostly under control, but when time is running out things take a turn for the worse. Eve gets commands from MI6, specifically M (Judi Dench), to take a shot that could take out Bond.
While the setup sounds common to fans of the series, there’s a lot of changes in this new Bond entry. Eve mostly takes a backseat to the events on-screen, never really becoming more than a supporting character. Gone are the high-tech gadgets and Bond feels a lot more vulnerable this time. Much is made of his age and how he isn’t the secret agent he used to be. In Casino Royale, he looked unstoppable running through walls. Now he even has trouble shooting straight.
The true Bond girl of Skyfall is M. Judi Dench gets a lot of screen time and delivers some of the best lines in the film. Skyfall is really about the relationship M and Bond share. While it does hurt the sex appeal of Bond to have him so focused on his mother figure, there’s a high intrigue between these characters that has never been explored. In fact, Skyfall has a lot of information about the back story of M and Bond and works almost as an origin story for a character we’ve known for fifty years.
Whereas most Bond villains have plans to take over the world, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) has a more personal vendetta. He seems fit to torture M and he will only be done when he has taken her life. There was a lot of excitement for Bardem to take the role of villain for Skyfall and his performance lives up to expectations. Silva is menacing, intelligent, and extremely flamboyant. Like the best Bond villains he has a secret past that gives him good reason to want his revenge. Bardem’s performance as Silva is one of the few iconic villains in the Bond series and sets the bar extremely high.
Skyfall has the benefit of having some of the best direction and cinematography the series has seen in a long time. Sam Mendes has brought his Academy Award winning pedigree to the franchise, in turn making Skyfall feel like one of the more significant Bond movies. Cinematographer Roger Deakins (No Country for Old Men, Shawshank Redemption) proves he’s been worthy of the Academy’s attention for many years. There’s some spectacular shots on display and when Bond visits China as well as a multitude of other shots that really add polish to the feature.
Is Skyfall the best Bond movie ever made? It might be. While it does feel overwhelming dark compared to the Bond films in the Roger Moore era, Bond has grown up. In order to compete with the other action films, Bond needed to evolve beyond sleeping with the Bond girl at the end of every film. From the fantastic origin story, solid performances from the cast and excellent cinematography, Skyfall is a step above most. Skyfall might shed some familiar elements, but what it brings to the franchise enables Bond to be relevant for another fifty years.