Skyfall Review: A classy, sexy reinvention of Bond
Skyfall tries to re-invent the Bond image by establishing new threats to both MI6 and to Bond himself while at the same time paying homage to the fans of the franchise.
Built off of great directing work by Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and writing by John Logan (Gladiator) Skyfall comes out as a very impressive work of film, not just a great Bond movie.
The story follows Bond as he tries and stops a cyber-terrorist (Javier Bardem) from destroying MI6 and killing M. The strength of the story is one of the high points of the movie as the entire time you are invested in this storyline and whether these characters are going to make it past the mission.
What works so well in this movie is the emotional pull that Mendes and Logan interject into these characters. It is so impressive because most have seen these characters multiple times before. Daniel Craig has been Bond in the last two films and Judi Dench is in her sixth Bond movie but at the same time you are learning more and new things about each of them.
Craig does a wonderful job with James Bond. This is the first Bond movie where I felt like the character actually did not have a shot at winning and was left hopeless and without the upper-hand. While some of that problem was forced by an amazing performance by the villain, Craig still took the struggles that Bond had and pulled the audience in. We were given scenes of weakness such as when Bond is back at MI6 and is trying to pass his tests. You can tell that he is struggling and that the stuff that was once easy for him is now a giant issue, he knows it and so do we. But at the same time we know that when the time comes he can be James Bond and when Silva (Bardem) enters the fray you are not entirely sure if being just James Bond is enough.
Bardem as Silva is also a revelation as he has to be one of the best Bond villains ever. He brings that psychotic, genius attitude that was stapled by Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight but gives it his own flair. You can tell that he wants to bring down MI6 and to kill M but he wants it on their terms. He wants them to be doing the deed because it is not satisfying enough for him to do it himself. Without giving too much away, this comes into fruition in the climax of the movie and his performance through the final 30 minutes is chilling and award worthy.
Dench does a stand-out job as M, a character that she has molded into her own through multiple movies. I love how in this one though she seems different. It goes back to the whole theme of vulnerability that rings through the movie. She is vulnerable; her agency has been attacked and she is on the fences with the government. Her career is definitely in the twilight but she doesn’t want to accept it and this internal back and forth that takes place through the movie makes for a great performance that I hope will get recognized.
Technically speaking, the cinematography was breathtaking and I hope some recognition goes the way of Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption). While the landscape and scenery shots are gorgeous, I was more impressed with his work in the action scenes which were some of the most well shot I’ve seen in awhile. They are so vivid and let the actors grip you in rather than make it cut driven. I also want to commend Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo) on a incredible score. He hit the right note when it needed to be hit, giving us heart-pounding romantic and dramatic scenes but spiking it with some adrenaline for the action.
Skyfall was a slam dunk and a movie that I fell in love with on first viewing. It carries so much cinematic wealth and is a pleasure to watch. Mendes did a incredible job directing and Logan gave a compelling and complete story that will be hard to beat in later Bonds. All the actors were on their top game and are sure to garner some award talk. This is not only my favorite Bond now but also one of the best action and overall movies of the year.
What do you think? Leave a comment.