Mendes has made a modernized retro Bond, something I imagine Tarrantino hoped to accomplish with Casino Royale, but never got to do. As much as he can, and where it makes sense, he keeps things classic. The gadgets are scaled down to a fingerprint reader on the Walther PPK, and a simple radio, one that needn't be placed inside a shoe. His vehicle of choice? For the latter half of the film, it will be his classic silver Aston Martin from Goldfinger.
I've been complaining that movies need to scale back, enough of the epic global threat. While the followup SPECTRE takes that route, which really worked for me because of the conspiracy itself, this does the opposite, giving us an anticlimax where all the epic scale disasters have happened. Silva's most personal kill that fires all of Bond's cylinders? Blowing up the Aston Martin, which will need severe repairs in SPECTRE before it's back on the road. By the time he finally gets M, Bond has already avenged, and we deal with the aftermath of her loss. To close, we get a more conservative replacement M, a male who could easily grow into the next Bernard Lee - the beloved screen legend Ralph Fiennes, who had been tricky and questionable throughout - back inside the original office set, more dimly lit... retro at it's finest. It doesn't feel like feeble nostalgia, it feels right, like the character and franchise are actually growing, which isn't always the case when grabbing pieces from the past. Think of the disasters like Rocky V and Godfather III. Well this is Bond XXIII, and he's at his absolute finest.
The Monty Norman score is seldom, rearranged and stretched throughout, mostly the four note buildup. As with all the Craig films, the brass motif is saved for end credits, but it makes partial appearances throughout. Thomas Newman did a nice job with this score, but it gets a little too synth for my taste. David Arnold has been the superior Bond composer, and his work on the less satisfying Quantum of Solace was the better score.
Skyfall is the best 007 of all time. It delivers a great story as well as awesome characters. Craig once again brings his A game making a case to be the best Bond ever. This Bond felt different from the rest because it had more of of the personal story of Bond. It wasn't just another mission. This is a must see of 2012.
Daniel Craig is for my
my favorite James Bond.
Respecting its predecessors of the last 50 years, the ever present trademarks of Martini's, Aston Martin's, snazzy gadgets, tailored suits, unabated flirting and quick quips are accounted for but the overall style is modern and more Bourne than Bond.
Maintaining tensions, Director Sam Mendes' has delved deep into Ian Fleming's novels in an attempt to bring an element of engagement though uncovering snippets of events that shaped Mr. Bond. Allowing Daniel Craig to bring a never before explored vulnerability to the ultra-suave character.
On his last assignment in Istanbul , British secret agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) and his off-sider Eve (Naomie Harris) pursue a man in possession of a stolen hard drive containing detailed information exposing crucial undercover agents identities within terrorist cells around the world.
Using Bond as a human shield and preventing the clean kill, Eve is ordered by the steadfast agency head M (Judy Dench) to make the shot, taking out Bond in the process. The fateful decision places M under the scrutiny of the Intelligence and Security Committee, challenging her methods, the new Chairman, Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) calls for an end to M's tenure through imposed retirement.
When MI6 headquarters is hacked then attacked, Bond is stirred out of his wallowing stupor. Dormant for months, 007 has lost the edge and suffers mentally, physical and emotionally from the injuries he sustained at M's instruction. Compromised equally from both inside and out, M must rely on the one uncomfortable ally left she can trust to save the agency - the unfit for duty, Bond.
Taking back to the shadows on the trail of the mysterious Silva (Javier Bardem), Bond proves that an oldie is always a goody as the villain's lethal motives are closer to home than expected.
Craig's physical prowess is outstripped by Dame Judy Dench's eloquent words. One of the best actors of her generation, Dench's presence as the Machiavellian matriarch adds a poignant layer the 007 world. Bardem is a bizarre balance between cartoon and repulsive megalomanic. Whilst the underplayed Fiennes and younger than expected newcomers Harris and techno-freak agent Q (Ben Whishaw) will obviously get their due screen time in films to come.
The verdict: An intelligent celebration of a beloved cultural icon, from the wonderfully haunting title song by Adele to its accompanying eye-popping opening montage credit based on the films content, this unforgettable (unlike its most recent predecessor) offering brings an invigorating relevance to the franchise.
Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 30/11/2012
In many ways this film and "GOLDENEYE" are two sides of the same coin thematically. Which is probably why it's no coincidence that they are my personal two favorites of the series. Both come at a similar idea from two different vantage points. And that idea is about Bond's place in the modern world. Whereas "GOLDENEYE" is about the ways in which Bond can adapt into the modern world and still be true to the spirit of his character, "SKYFALL" is about how in certain ways he should not. And similarly to "GOLDENEYE" by no coincidence works to get that across with having Bond contend with a rogue MI6 agent as his chief adversary.
Whilst Alec Trevelyan represented what Bond could be like if he were stuck in the past, Raoul Silva represented what happens when ones tries to abandon it. Both in their first big reveal/confrontation even make sure to chastise Bond over his "archaic" senses of duty and loyalty. Basically "GOLDENEYE" showed how Bond's social sensibilities could be updated with the modern world whilst remaining true to the positive things he represents. Whilst on the other hand "SKYFALL" puts into action their worth over not having them in the modern world.
A sense of duty to do whatever it takes to see the mission through even if tempted to run away, a sense of patriotism towards his country without being a subservient lapdog, and resourcefulness in dangerous situations in the field.
In keeping with the over-arching old vs new theme is the tone/style of the film itself. Combining modern sensibilities that were emphasized in the previous Craig films with the theatrical flair of several of the franchise's earlier entries. Don't get me wrong, "CASINO ROYALE" is one of the best entries to the series and a great film in its own right but I think the mix works splendidly. And is probably my personal preferred take on it.
I actually prefered this view of Bond than some of the more flashier previous films. Its much simpler and realistic and all the better for it.