Skyfall

skyfall Separator

by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)

Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace breathed new life into the Bond series with Daniel Craig’s gritty, emotionally-detached portrayal of 007. The success of those two films left little room for upstaging, but Skyfall isn’t backing down from the challenge. Directed by Sam Mendes, the third film of the series reboot starring Craig is the best of the three, and perhaps the best Bond film of all. A bold statement, yes, but something to consider as the 23rd installment of the franchise expertly balances the charm of classic bond with the cool, calculating authenticity that Craig brings to the character. It’s a fine line to walk, but Skyfall handles it delicately which serves the film well. Viewers aren’t slapped with a heavy-handed “shaken not stirred.” Rather, they can appreciate a moment when Bond offhandedly compliments the bartender on a job well done with his shaken martini. With one strategically-placed “Bond, James Bond” and the Aston Martin DB5 making its triumphant return to the big screen, Skyfall is the most obvious nod toward vintage Bond that we’ve seen from the reboot; old-school fans will be pleased with how it pays homage in a subtle way without trying to replicate the classics entirely.

We know 007 isn’t invincible, but we haven’t seen him teetering on the edge of destruction until now. The opening scene features a haggard Bond in pursuit of his target; he is shot once, then shot again. Aside from the physical afflictions, some of Bond’s decline — like his drinking problem — is administered by his own hand. We see him in a vulnerable position, but it doesn’t detract from his powerful presence. It humanizes him in a way that we haven’t experienced before. The film unfolds with his abilities being questioned by himself and others, but we soon find that his skills are not gone, they simply need to be rediscovered. Age is becoming a factor, and the battle between the old rules of espionage and the new standard is an underlying theme throughout the film. Craig brings excellence as always, and his portrayal of Bond’s slightly-dulled edge is spot on.

Craig isn’t the only star. An extraordinary cast serves as a strong foundation, not backdrop, for Skyfall. Javier Bardem easily steals every scene he’s in as one of the most disturbing Bond villains ever – ex-MI6 agent, Silva. Emotionally disturbed, Silva relies on mind games and staying one step ahead of everyone to carry out his plan of revenge on his former employers. His sights are specifically set on Judi Dench’s character, M. His obsession with her, coupled with his distorted view of reality, sets viewers on edge from the very introduction of his character. He proves himself to be ruthless, yet jovial. Silva’s temperament is the exact opposite of Bond, providing an interesting contrast. Dench and Bardem are both power-players, standing tall and holding their own throughout the film.

With regards to plot, the film is solid. But to the credit of Mendes, it’s the little things that stand out. The general aesthetic is beautiful, with consistent warm tones and textured settings pulling just as much weight, if not more, than any character. One scene jumps out as particularly breathtaking; Bond is running through vast, open terrain. He is silhouetted in black against a night sky that is lit vibrantly in reds and oranges from a burning building behind him. There are several shots like this, purely artistic, that add a rich quality to the look of the film.

Skyfall is an excellent addition to the Bond series that won’t be easily topped. Though dark at some points, it ends on a surprising note that will leave fans excited for the future of the franchise.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


    2 Comments

  1. WintorzNovember 12th, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    “the franchise expertly balances the charm of classic bond with the cool, calculating authenticity that Craig brings to the character.”

    I have to disagree. While some references are beautiful (Q’s line about exploding pens as an example was brilliant), I felt at times the references to old Bond were too heavy handed and detracted from the (darker/grittier) style of new Bond too much. That said, I appreciate that my opinion is in a minority, at least right now.

    I’m glad you feel Javier Bardem held his own. Some critics have accused him of being over the top/hammy but I thought (as do the vast majority of people I know who’ve seen it) thought his style of acting suited the role.

    However, I never felt like Bond was in any danger. But, perhaps this was because we are meant to feel M is in danger (which was successfully achieved).

    I completely agree about the aesthetics. It is beautifully put together. And the opening credits I thought were brilliant.

    Though I still feel Casino Royale is better, Skyfall is undoubtedly one of the best Bonds (My second Favourite). I just warn (as always) against people being absorbed by the Hype surrounding it. To anyone coming to it without expectations, I’m sure they’ll be impressed.

  2. HollyNovember 12th, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Skyfall was the best Bond film of all time, in my opinion.

    I loved the fact that they added touches of the old films into this one, especially *SPOILER ALERT* the ending, where you see the office so often shown in the old Bond films, and the return of Moneypenny. Although Judi Dench played an excellent M, I do think that Ralph Fiennes can do better. Partly, yes, because he is male. Not to be sexist, but the original M was male, and so was the one in the books. And I know, change is good sometimes. But in the case of Bond, less change is really a key factor that the audience loves. I think that if the Bond films get too modern, it will lose that spark,which has kept it apart from all those other action adventure films we get nowadays.

    I think having a strong and tough female character as the head of MI6 was great. But I think her death was fitting, and, did make the film better (not because she died, but the aftermath of her death darkened the mood, which I thought was essential that the film didn’t become overly “happy”). I think Ralph Fiennes will do a great job as M.

    I was saddened by the fact that they destroyed the Aston Martin DB5. It seems nearly every film, they have to destroy one of the beautiful cars. I know it had to be done, to heighten the action and destruction, but I really love those cars.

    I thought Javier Bardem was a great villain. It wasn’t too over the top. He was creepy and mentally unstable, and it made the film more realistic and fascinating.

    I loved this film and I am excited as to what comes next in the following Bond film. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars as well.

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