by Michelle McGlynn
Skyfall will be ranked as one of the greatest Bond films to date by steadfast and fleeting fans alike. The latest Bond installment will silence any more talk of Bond being out-dated and irrelevant in these modern times. Sam Mendes resurrects the character who in recent times had not appeared too lively.
The film opens on Bond (Daniel Craig) pursuing someone through Istanbul in a chase that involves jeeps, motorbikes and trains. Following the impressive, somewhat dark, opening credit sequence, we return to London where M (Judi Dench) is composing 007’s obituary. Bond takes a couple of months to “enjoy death” hiding out in bars and drinking his way through his confusion. When the MI6 headquarters are targeted in a terrorist attack, Bond returns from the shadows. Someone has stolen a hard drive containing the information of every undercover agent working within terrorist organisations. The culprit is publishing five names online every week. In order to find the person responsible and bring him to justice, both Bond and M must come face to face with darkness from their past.
Mendes approaches this film with a self-assuredness that translates onto the screen. He is fully aware of the task at hand and brings Bond forward while never losing touch with the past. Mendes stays true to the inherent qualities of the character but also ensures that he remains relevant to today’s audience. Skyfall makes reference to itself throughout. Various characters insinuate that Bond has past his prime which echoes comments that have been made regarding the entire Bond franchise. Bond takes these comments in his stride just as Mendes has done because both men know that Bond is about to make an incredible, somewhat unexpected, comeback. Just as Bond is “resurrected” following his brush with death, the film serves as the resurrection of the series.
The film takes a leap in to the new world of cyber-terrorism. The plot nodding to the recent events relating to WikiLeaks. MI6 and M herself, come under fire as the government question whether they are capable of fighting this new brand of terrorists. Cyber-terrorists can command great power without ever stepping out of the shadows. As with many films of late, our attention is drawn to our dependence on technology.
The film opens with an electrifying, fast-paced chase and rarely slows down. Skyfall is gripping, intense and entertaining in equal measures. The film introduces new characters such as Ben Whishaw as Q, Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory and, of course, Javier Bardem’s villain Raoul Silva. However, the film makes room to delve deeper into the main characters of Bond and M. There are some moments of genuine emotion and the film showcases the actors’ talents more than previous installments. Amid all of the tension, emotion and adrenaline-fueled action, there is also plenty of fun. The droll exchanges between the people of MI6 are hilarious. While Bardem is thoroughly amusing as the latest Bond villain.
In this, his third outing, Daniel Craig finally seems to have settled in to his character. In the previous two installments, there was always something missing from Craig and there was a sense that he was aware of this as he seemed almost uncomfortable in the role. But in Skyfall Craig undoubtedly embodies everything it means to be Bond. He may be a bit darker and broodier than before, a little bit bruised and battered, but he is still 007.
Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes are each commanding in their authoritative roles. Fiennes subtley hints that there is more to his character than meets the eye. While Dench retains her authority and simultaneously exposes her hidden insecurities.
Javier Bardem all but steals the show as Raoul Silva. It is clearly evident that Bardem relished playing this character. Bardem is playful, bizarre and just a little insane. The perfect recipe for a Bond villain. He is exceptionally entertaining, so much so that you will almost find yourself rooting for him. Silva’s grand entrance leads to an unforgettable scene between Bond and himself. Bardem is delectable in Skyfall and one of the highlights of the film.
Skyfall is thrilling, smart and absolutely entertaining from beginning to end. It comes complete with martinis, women, cars, gadgets and globe-trotting but it is infused with a fresh, infectious energy. For the first time in years, the Bond franchise feels as though it is heading in an exciting direction. Skyfall will be an instant hit with life-long fans as well as the general audience. It is definitely a must-see of 2012.