Let me just get this out of the way and say that I am not the most immersed fan of the Bond films, and I only properly watched Craig's interpretation of Bond. Though I am aware about the principles of the Bond films like girls, gadgets, etc. Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace felt like they were trying to steer away from the principles that fueled the pre-Craig bond films. Skyfall in the other hand embraces it and spraying something new in there making it feeling fresh and unique.
The film was written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & John Logan. Purvis and Wade wrote the previous 2 bond films and some of the Pierce Brosnan Bond films. Since both have experience and knowledge of the history of Bond, they may be responsible for the genius reference moments in the film, like Q and the Aston Martin DB5. Logan on the other hand was a surprise for me as he has never written a Bond film before and isn't a frequent collaborator with Mendes. Nevertheless Logan has done well here. His well known films have been regarded as great action films and at times quite ambitious. He has brought that imagination of thrilling and intense action sequences here that haves us hooked all the way through. The film is able to explore the argument of the traditional and contemporary approach, even more so at the end of the film, which I thought was a nice touch. The emotional drive in the film is carried not by Bond but rather by M, as the film showcases the regrets and sacrifice that M has made and the torment and suffering that others and herself it has caused. The film also surprised me by touching on Bond's past, showing us his roots and home. It may be common in bond films to have witty dialogue and one-liners but it may be a tad bit too much for me here and sometimes it does prove to be a distraction, this may not bother others as it seen as rather amusing instead which I also don't mind.
When I heard Sam Mendes was directing this film, I knew that this was going to be handled much better and the film will feel significant and requires to be viewed over and over again. I was a bit worried on how he would handle the action element of the film as I don't really see him as the most onerous when it comes to those particular moments but he really outdid himself here with action sequences that shine and memorable. It is the intimate moments where I appreciate Mendes' craft because he has proven it with his previous films like Away We Go and American Beauty. Mendes really understood the characters in this film, displaying their vulnerabilities and strengths allowing us to engross on the story and the relationships that is being explored. Mendes has accomplished in creating the most stylish Bond film yet, at least for now. The film is definitely a first step into a new phase of Bond that will define the subsequent Bond films.
Roger Deakins has worked with the best directors of this century and he frequently collaborates with them. One of those collaborations is with Mendes. Deakins has worked on every film by Mendes after Road To Perdition, except of course Away We Go. Deakins's photography in many of his films are quite stylish and always try to one up other DP in the business by not recycling his techniques. Deakins is definitely one of the crucial fraction in making this film feel and look beautiful. The highlights are the scenes that takes place in Macau and Shanghai, this is where the image makes an impression with popping colors and employing a modern style of photography. The fight scene in Shanghai was breathtaking as all you see are their silhouettes with the neon lights at the back shines in and out. The action sequences are handled very well as Deakins and Mendes allows the stunt men or actors to show off their skills within that one shot allowing for a much more smoother experience. As the start of the film, the image feels more natural and then heads towards a more colorful approach in the scenes in Asia. The end takes a monotone palette stripping the image down with the beauty that accommodates the first three quarters of the film, correlating with the themes that Mendes was trying to project (particularly the traditional vs contemporary aspect).
Thomas Newman who have worked with all of Mendes' films, aside from Away We Go. Newman is a great composer and he has proven that with films like Shawshank Redemption, Wall-E, Finding Nemo and American Beauty. Newman a lot of the times doesn't make scores that people will end up taking notice while watching the film, though there are a few exceptions like American Beauty and WALL-E, but he does have the ability to suck us in and allow us to feel the emotions that Mendes wants us to feel in selected occasions. Newman's score for Skyfall projects that and avoids the feeling of being campy even if it doesn't deviate too far from the modern day action scores. His score just works seamlessly with the traditional Bond theme that is scattered throughout which adds on to the immersion.
Craig comes back for his third attempt of playing James Bond and he has done a wonderful job, as expected. There may be a bit of a step back for Craig here as the emotional driven scenes are not handled by him but rather by Judi Dench as M. Dench was able to embody a character who has a lot of regrets in her life and the audience can see how fractured her soul is with people fallen under her command. Bardem was a great villain in this film, making himself very memorable and tries to outshine any actor in the scene with him. Fiennes is an actor that always brings his best in whatever role he is in and he has done so here but he was limited here in screen time. I think we will see more of him in the subsequent films. The bond girls, Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe, were fantastic here. I love seeing women who can carry their own or at least bring something unique and fresh to a formula that has been recycled over and over again. Harris was a standout in balancing sexy and toughness while Marlohe on the other hand brings out the lustful desires of the audience while not being there just for a good time with Bond.
Skyfall is definitely a milestone for the Bond series and it sets up for a new phase in the series. If you enjoy a new twist in the same formula, beautiful photography and brilliant direction then give this one a try. I hope Mendes' 24th Bond film will just be as good as this, maybe even better.