After years of being slick, smooth and on-point, we finally get to see a version of James Bond we haven’t quite seen before: a spy nearing the end of his game. Sam Mendes sits in the director’s chair for this 23rd installment in the 007 series entitled Skyfall. Daniel Craig is back as Bond, as well as Judi Dench playing M, along with some new faces: Ralph Fiennes, the menacing Javier Bardem, and the beautiful Naomie Harris.
Sam Mendes does a tremendous job avoiding the tired cliches of a James Bond movie, and it helps that the script is based off of the later Ian Flemming Bond novels, as we get to see a Bond that’s getting tired, and sluggish at times. The action scenes are as hard-hitting as ever, as Mendes utilizes Craig’s physique rather well. At times the action scenes are poetic, like the silhouette of hand-to-hand combat lit up by the neon flames of Shanghai, but mostly they are ruthless. The script also gives us more insight on James Bond’s background, as well as it deepens the character of M and gives us a fully-fledged villain in Silva. At over two hours in length, the film is paced rather well, as we get a good mix of action, suspense, drama and the always reliable Bond charm.
Daniel Craig is playing the iconic James Bond for the third time, and he’s making a case for himself as the best James Bond ever. Craig is the most physically capable actor to play Bond, and here he is still a beast of a killer. This time around, we do get to see more of Bond’s internal workings, and Craig projects them through the cold-steel gaze very well. He’s on the verge of breaking down from the scars of the spy-game, but Craig as Bond still shows us he’s still as sharp as ever when the stakes are at its highest. Craig brings a mysteriousness to the Bond character, in addition to a rugged physicality, and he adds a soul to the character as well. Javier Bardem is the main villain in this film, and he has an absolute ball as Silva, an intelligent hacker, and former spy with mommy issues that’s sexually-ambiguous. Bardem, as Silva, gets under your skin and portrays a psycho that could be Norman Bates’ brother (or at least cousin). Bardem commands the screen with his creepy, hypnotic eyes and elegantly powerful voice. Judi Dench as M gives a solid performance, as usual, and we get to see the relationship between M and Bond a bit more.
Skyfall gives us a Bond that’s dealing with age and time, but still hasn’t lost his edge or wit. At the core, this 007 installment shines brightest with the very different relationships Bond and Silva have with M. M is Bond’s only true lady, as she is the closest to a parent that Bond has in his life. Skyfall shoots Bond back to the top with a bullet.
For those that are looking for a classic Bond film, this isn’t really it. It’s a good, fresh take on Bond, but it doesn’t really follow the older Bond formula. It’s basically a Bond movie for this day and age, and those that enjoyed the older 007 films might moan and groan about this one.
Javier Bardem gives arguably the best performance in the film, but he makes his initial appearance about an hour into the movie. Some may have wanted more screen-time for Bardem. In addition, Bardem’s Silva could’ve had more scenes to flex his chaotic mind.
The ending isn’t very strong, at least with the final confrontation between Silva and Bond. Their confrontation ends on a weak note. Some may feel there could’ve been more scenes shared between Bond and Silva, giving them more chances to throw some verbal jabs because they go at it so well.
Quantum of Solace
Road to Perdition
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