Skyfall is the best Bond film in years. The Pierce Brosnan era ended with a whimper. Casino Royale was impressive, but lacked much of the 007 charm. Quantum of Solace was a boring mess. But Skyfall... damn this is such a great movie.
This film marries the slightly silly, over the top qualities that made the original Bond’s such delights to watch with the gritty realism that makes the series relevant to today’s audience. Everything that was missing from Casino and Quantum is here: gadgets, Moneypenny, a flamboyant villain, Q, a song worthy of Shirley Bassey. And while all these throwback elements are great, what’s even better is that the filmmakers slipped them perfectly into the new Bond world that had been created. Skyfall harkens back to the original 007 adventures, but also continues moving the franchise into the future.
The best element of Skyfall is the story, particularly the relationship between James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Mi6 head M (Judi Dench). Their constant head-butting and growing respect for each other has been building through the previous two films. Here it is put front and center, with M being the driving force behind the main villain’s plan for destruction. M is Bond’s equal on the screen instead of being reduced to a supporting role. It was exciting to finally see Judi Dench get the screen time she deserves after almost two decades with the Bond franchise.
Skyfall does an excellent job of incorporating character development and genuine emotion into its story (something many 007 flicks skimp on), but let’s not forget that it also delivers during the key action scenes. I particularly loved the fight sequence in an empty office building. The scene is gorgeous, consisting primarily of silhouette against an electronic blue billboard. It’s reminiscent of parts of Kill Bill Vol. 1, but with a decidedly Bond edge. We’re also treated to standard 007 car chases, and a Home Alone-style explosive ending that is worthy of the franchise.
The cherry on the top of all this is Adele’s haunting “Skyfall.” This won the Oscar for Best Original Song, making it the first James Bond song to do so. This is surprising for a series that not only consistently produces original music for each installment, but has attracted some amazingly talented artists to do so. Still, this win was completely deserved. The song is perfect for the film, and has quickly become one of my favorite Bond songs of all time.
In fact, Skyfall has become one of my favorite Bond films of all time. My interest in the franchise has been reignited, and I’m anxiously waiting for 007’s next adventure. (The title and cast are being announced this week! Christoph Waltz is rumored to be playing Blofeld! I can hardly contain my excitement– no sarcasm!)
Now this is more like it. It is the first Bond film starring Daniel Craig that actually feels like a James Bond film.
When a mission to recover a list of undercover MI6 agents goes wrong and James Bond (Craig) is presumed dead, M’s (Judi Dench) leadership comes under fire. Bond eventually returns to duty but is not the man he once was, struggling to pass the MI6 physical assessment. Despite this, he is given his 007 title back and told to find who stole the list of undercover agents before they can release the information. The trail leads Bond to Silva (Javier Bardem), a bitter former agent who has a history with M, and is out for revenge.
This is the perfect mix of a new age ‘Bourne’ type of action movie and the old school Bond films we know and love. Craig’s Bond finally embraces some form of gadgets the series is famous for, being given a funky new gun that only he can fire. The series also introduces Bond’s weapons master Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomi Harris). It is nice to see the series starting to embrace Bond’s roots and not rely so much on gritty realism. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of that here, but Craig feels like he has grown into the role of Bond and no longer has the prickly personality he has had in the previous two films. There is a bit of wit and sarcasm from Bond in Skyfall, and it is nice to see Bond act this way.
I must also bring up Javier Bardem as Silva. He is a great Bond villain. He is larger than life, charming and diabolical at the same time. Just what you want in any good Bond villain. The only way he could be better is if he was Matt Preston from Masterchef (Come on, that guy was born to be a Bond villain).
I normally don’t mention the soundtrack for a movie very often, but I am going to with Skyfall. I love the title song by Adele. It is haunting and deservedly won an Oscar at last year’s Academy Awards.
Skyfall is a massive return to form for Daniel Craig and James Bond after the disappointment of Quantum of Solace. Bond has his swagger and gadgets back and it couldn’t be better.