Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
So what’s yours? Resurrection.
Daniel Craig’s third outing in ‘Skyfall’ was a triumphant return to form after the slightly disappointing ‘Quantum of Solace’. One of the best modern Bond’s as well as one of the best action films of recent times, ‘Skyfall’ is a thoroughly satisfying thriller and to date, the most successful film in the series (although ‘Spectre’ may overtake it). Getting Sam Mendes to direct was perhaps the first surprise, given his previous films were more focused on character than action, but it was a choice that paid dividends, with the increased focus on character enriching the experience without detracting from the action. From the opening chase throughout Turkey to the explosive scenes on the London Underground, this is a film that constantly entertains and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
In his third outing as Bond, Daniel Craig puts in his best performance, ably supported by an enhanced role for the ever reliable Judi Dench and a terrific performance by Javier Bardem as the film’s villain Silva. Dench in particular is finally given a role befitting of her standing and she gets to share a lot of the screentime with Bond as well as some of the best dialogue and a chance to show M in greater depth than in any of the previous films. ‘Skyfall’ also provides strong outings for new cast members Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw, whilst Albert Finney is the highlight of the Scotland set finale, where the narrative dives into Bond’s past.
One of the films strengths is the exploration of Bond’s childhood and M’s past, spending more time developing character than a lot of the previous Bond films, but crucially not at the expense of the classic action moments the films are known for. Some of the remarks edge a little too much into nostalgic territory but for the most part they are pretty damn cool, and for all the ferocious action there’s still time for plenty of humour. The Bond franchise has lasted 50 years through constant reinvention, whilst always acknowledging the key ingredients that have made it popular in the first place. The main aspect that sets the Craig films apart from any other period in James Bond history is the increased focus on continuity. This was of course helped by the reboot in ‘Casino Royale’ but it’s emphasised by the continual reference to events from previous entries and the sense that every crucial event and every kill is starting to weigh heavily on Bond’s mind. ‘Spectre’ would go further in this regard but ‘Skyfall’ is the film that really starts to delve into the past.
The James Bond series has became known for its groundbreaking action sequences and effects and this has been both a blessing and a curse over the years. A curse in the sense that there has sometimes been a tendency to go bigger and bolder without considering the mechanics of the sequence or how it fits in with the overall plot, but thankfully in ‘Skyfall’ it is a blessing. The opening sequence on the train in Turkey is thrilling and effortlessly cool, but that is nothing compared to the outstanding sequence set in the London Underground, which is not only thrilling in its own right but a moment that leads to several shocks and surprises. The visuals in ‘Skyfall’ were shot by master cinematographer Roger Deakins and this elevates the camerawork to another level, particularly during the action sequences.
‘Skyfall’ is one of my favourite Bond films and the strongest of the Craig Bond’s for me. It’s superbly directed with a gripping narrative that feels both traditional and modern, and despite a slightly disappointing finale, ‘Skyfall’ more than delivers.
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace and Ralph Fiennes