Watched Oct 29, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
As a Brit it probably isn’t wise to admit that I don’t really care much for the Bond films. They are perfectly adequate action-adventure movies but the vast majority are utterly indistinguishable from one another. Daniel Craig’s tenure as the iconic spy is no different and that includes Casino Royale which is widely considered one of the best Bond films to date. Because of this I was sceptical of the near-unanimous praise that Skyfall has been receiving but for once the acclaim is more than deserved as not only is this a great Bond movie but a great film period.
On paper at least Skyfall looked promising with a pedigree rarely seen in such blockbuster fare. Sam Mendes hardly seemed a natural fit but sometimes leftfield choices can create unexpected magic as demonstrated here. It arguably has the best cast of any Bond film to date including the likes of Bardem, Finney, Wishaw and the best Bond that never was, Ralph Fiennes. Each of the new additions are great whilst the familiar characters all up their game and have their characters considerably tested. The personal stakes this time around help elevate it above most of the series’ more general world conquering stories and the narrower focus is a welcome addition.
For me a Bond film lives or dies on the success of the villain or, at the very least, a memorable antagonist makes for a memorable film and this is one area where Skyfall excels. Javier Bardem’s Silva is a brilliant creation managing to straddle the fine line between being both a legitimate threat and entertaining pantomime villain. Just like his turn in No Country for Old Men he once again proves to be an imposing figure who revels in exaggerated theatrics. Whilst it is disappointing that his appearance comes late in the film the delay does at least heighten expectation and his reveal, and flamboyant demeanour, is well worth the wait.
Roger Deakins involvement meant that, if nothing else, Skyfall would prove to be the most attractive Bond movie. The variety of locations, both familiar and exotic, allows for an ever changing canvas and with each new locale Deakins works his magic. The lighting is particularly impressive and really heightens the atmosphere whilst exploiting the diversity of settings. Perhaps most surprisingly is how good the action is. Mendes doesn’t necessarily seem the sort of director where action would be his forte but from the frankly ridiculous pre-credits sequence (ridiculous in a good way) through to the convention-bucking climax, the action is inventive, easy to follow and always builds to a satisfying conclusion.
Where the film slightly falters is in the uneasy marriage of the new and the old. Skyfall attempts to bridge the gap between the grounded and emotionally vulnerable Bond and the old school quipping ladies man. Yet the script is a little clumsy when it comes to the latter and Craig never quite convinces when trying to sell this side of the character. Likewise the endless little nods to the earlier films can become a little tiresome and redundant. These are mere quibbles though when the overall package is as polished, exciting and generally entertaining as this.
Skyfall is easily the best Bond since Goldeneye and may, on repeated viewings, prove to be the greatest post-Connery film of the series so far.