Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: "Skyfall"

Fifty years ago, in 1962, Sean Connery brought Ian Fleming's James Bond to the big screen for the first time in Dr. No. Although 1964's Goldfigner is the gold standard, the world has seen twenty-two Bond films and six actors playing the dashing British spy. Daniel Craig took over from Pierce Brosnan in 2006 in Casino Royale (which was hailed as potentially the best Bond film). In my opinion, Daniel Craig is perfect choice for James Bond, especially as the newer films depict Bond as more human and vulnerable. Craig's brooding performance is right for James Bond, unlike his performance as Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Barbara Broccoli and Eon Pictures also made a smart move hiring Sam Mendes to reignite the Bond franchise in Skyfall. The British director (and former Mrs. Kate Winslet) won Academy gold in 1999 for American Beauty. His films are often deeply emotional, and it allows for the series to finally give James Bond more character development. He is smart and he is cocky, and he loves women and liquor, but he is a supremely private man with a dark past. Another great addition is that of villain Javier Bardem. The Spanish actor, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in No Country for Old Men, is deliciously evil in Skyfall. There are scenes that make the homoerotic tension in BBC's Sherlock seem childlike by comparison. And for the first time since 1995's GoldenEye, Adele's beautifully rendered theme song Skyfall is a near-perfect theme for the film. The entire opening credits is a stunning achievement. Skyfall is not a perfect film by any means (and slightly less thrilling than Casino Royale), but the performances from Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench are so sublime that Bond's twenty-third venture is just as fun as the first time.

James Bond (Craig) is on a mission in Turkey to recover a stolen hard drive containing the names of all NATO agents currently undercover across the world. While involved in a chase on top of a train, Bond is shot by Eve (Naomie Harris), a fellow MI6 agent, after being given the go-ahead by M (Dench) to take the shot at the enemy. Bond appears to be dead. In London, M is under fire for mishandling the situation. While M is out of the building, her computer is hacked and an explosion devastates the entire building. After seeing a news report of the attack, Bond returns home and confronts M. He is forced to undergo assessments to become field ready, and after being told that he has passed, M sends him to Shanghai to find Patrica (Ola Rapace), the man he has been pursuing on the train. In Shanghai, he meets a woman named Sévérine (Bérénice Lim Marlohe) who leads him to Raoul Silva (Bardem), a former colleague of Bond's and protege of M's that is intent on revenge.

The chase scene on top of the train to open the film is exhausting and breathtaking. It is not quite as exhilarating as the opening chase of Casino Royale, but we have to admit that it would be hard to top that. I also appreciated that the Bond girls, played by Bérénice Lim Marlohe and Naomie Harris, are much more capable and intelligent than in previous films. Even Famke Janssen's Xenia Onatapp (my favourite Bond girl) in GoldenEye was a little too one-dimensional. But what truly makes Skyfall one of the best Bond films is the superior acting. Daniel Craig, in his third film as James Bond, has finally sunk his teeth into the character and has created a contemporary hero who is both complicated and fearless. Judi Dench, an Oscar-winning actress and living legend, breathes such life into M that I wish her performance could garner much more acclaim. Javier Bardem, as a ruthless and outrageous villain, deserves much credit for the success of the film. Silva is a complicated and psychotic man, and it would be quite interesting to see an interaction between Raoul Silva and Anton Chigurh - both with their terrible haircuts. Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas) is also deliciously clever as Q, Bond's new mop-headed quartermaster. Skyfall proves that the Bond franchise is heading in the right direction. After reigniting the series with Casino Royale and disappointing fans with 2008's Quantum of Solace, Skyfall is definitive proof that Bond fans are looking for some proper character development. This newest Bond film has less gadgetry and senseless violence than most modern action films, and that is a good thing.

My rating: 3.75 stars out of 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment