Considering the last James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, was released in 2008 faith in the newest instalments of the Bond franchise and its leading man Daniel Craig was beginning to falter. That was until Skyfall was released encapsulating Bond fans all over the world. Skyfall utilises a more damaged and experienced Bond coming face to face his bosses past and pushing himself to the very limit once more.
Skyfall follows a shaken (but not stirred) Bond after his latest assignment doesn’t go to plan with serious implications for both him and MI6. We follow 007 as he tracks down a missing hard drive containing information about undercover NATO operatives in terrorist organisations, which has been stolen. Bond manages to track down the hard drive that leads him twisted and vengeful villain Silva who has his own personal vendetta.
The narrative stays true to what we expect from a Bond film but with a level of delivery superior to the Bond films of late. In Skyfall the plot twists and turns throughout with every turn heightening the intensity of the previous. However, for me this is the first Bond film to take advantage of the fantastic scenery Britain has to offer. We get tastes of far away lands and exotic shores but the utilisation of London landscapes and the Scottish highlands left a bigger impact on myself than any other Bond film. Skyfall doesn’t conform to the letter to the Bond film-making formula which in this case works.
Skyfall is everything you expect from a modern day Bond. Director Sam Mendes manages to cram as much action and drama into 143 minutes as humanly possible to deliver a film that pleases its audience on every level. Mendes embraced everything Bond in its 50 year anniversary delivering everything expected from a Bond film – the memorable opening credits, the girls, the cars, plenty of explosions, awesome weapons and death-defying stunts – all wrapped up in a slick bow with incredible visuals. The 23rd instalment truly honours classic elements of the Bond series it’s modern in its approach, intense in its dramatic kicks, witty and charming in its humour but also a fantastic action film in its own right.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins stamps the film with the most impressive visuals ever seen in a Bond film. His combination of shots as well as framing and focus pulls the audience into the action and perfectly mirrors the atmosphere of each specific scene. For example, at the beginning of one of the action sequences Deakins employs a fixed focal length and has 007 walk from out of the darkness into the spotlight pulling out the intense and quiet drama the scene creates and embedding hidden meanings of Bond’s journey throughout this narrative.
But even if you were to take away these amazing shots and iconic landscapes you would still be left with an outstanding cast that have enough chemistry to cause epic Bond style explosion. For me, in this film Daniel Craig establishes himself as a darker Bond with strong emotional depth that hasn’t been displayed in the other leading actors. His tone and manner bounce perfectly off the best actress in this film – Judi Dench playing M. Dench shines as the perfect M and provides a constant source of entertainment and emotional grounding throughout the film.
Although I was impressed with both Craig and Dench I was most pleasantly surprised by Javier Bardem as Silva and Ben Whishaw as Q. Bardem encapsulates a vengeful and twisted villain reminiscent of Hannibal Lector and Heath Ledger’s Joker which contrasts with the 007 Craig has developed to deliver high levels of tension. Meanwhile Whishaw reinvents the stereotypical Q represented in previous Bond films and injects his own charming and youthful twist on the character.
The verdict? Skyfall dusted away the doubts and delivered a powerhouse of a Bond film that is up there with the best of 007. Mendes has pieced together all the elements, both modern and classic to truly celebrate the 50th year in Bond history. Skyfall is witty, charming, intense, action packed and typically British which is everything audiences could have asked from it and more.