Sunday, 28 October 2012

Skyfall - Review


SKYFALL

 
2012

12A

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench

 
When a hard-drive listing all undercover NATO operative is out of the hands of British Intelligence and into the hands of cyber villain Silva; James Bond must resurrect himself from a near death experience in order to recover the drive, salvage M’s reputation and control a man who wants ultimate revenge.

From a personal point of view, Daniel Craig is the most impressive James Bond to date even in the shaky second instalment: Quantum of Solace. Here Bond is back in fine form in a film specially made to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Ian Fleming’s juggernaut series. Having rebooted the film series away from the campness of the Brosnan era, Skyfall picks up a while after the first days of a licence to kill in Casino Royale. In this film he is more of a hurt hero battling with ghosts from his past.

The film opens with an adrenaline laced chase sequence through a Turkish bazaar. What’s beautiful about this opening is what director Sam Mendes has described as a “Russian doll” approach. You think it’s a car chase, which evolves into a bike chase, which morphs into a train chase: and this happens seamlessly. Praise must be given early on for cinematographer Roger Deakins who has delivered searing and dramatic visuals; stunning cinematography would be an understatement.

Sam Mendes has taken up the mammoth challenge of this 23rd Bond movie with refreshing poise. He has spoken of trying to get a quality plot cemented to begin with and then to incorporate all the obligatory elements we expect from a James Bond film. This seems to work better than starting with necessary fundamentals (the credits sequence, the Bond girls, the exotic locations, the cars, the villains and the explosions) and trying to fit in something of a plot around it. There are charming odes to Bond films of yester year and finally a director has been happy to utilise the breathtaking British scenery for the majority of the movie: Skyfall is definitely worthy of the 50th year anniversary.

This movie’s iconic credit sequence is one of the best ones yet. Craig takes a tumble through morbid animations supplemented by Adele’s dulcet tones. They definitely cracked it this time. James Bond spends a hour or so as an unshaven wreck who is out of shape and hitting the bottle. I say “out of shape” but fear not, Craig’s glistening musculature is not impeded by this. And rightly so because he has multiple Bond girls to please. Fellow agent Eve (Noamie Harris) gives a reasonable effort as MI6 sniper and Berenice Marlohe is utterly beautiful; but Skyfall is most definitely about the men.

Javier Bardem’s villain Silva does not surface until the second act, but when he does, it is glorious. In a lengthy tracking shot he delivers a parable about rats which acts as a recurring motif throughout the rest of the movie, he then probes Bond about his drink, his form, his relationship with M and even his sexuality in an erotically charged scene. It’s moments like this where Mendes is at his American-Beauty-best and Daniel Craig shows that subtlety is his ace. Silva is multifaceted and a highly original creation, a foreigner with a Nolanesque deformity to boot (echoes of Harvey-two-face anyone?) What’s bracing is that Silva’s motives are personal, and his way of going about his revenge is in a very 21st century way.

There’s a wonderful reinvention of Q by Ben Whishaw who brings youth and humour while reminding us of, quite sinisterly, the damage that can be done with a computer before breakfast in the wrong hands. The banter between him and Craig is inspired, another example of Mendes getting the absolute best out of his actors. As commented by members of our viewing party, Ralph Feinnes plays it as enigmatically as ever but gets some excellent action scenes in the third act.

Skyfall provides everything we have come to expect and love from James Bond, it’s sleek, traditional, thrilling, fun and laden with classic characters. All in all, if Skyfall was to be the last Bond movie, Sam Mendes most definitely ends it on a high. However thankfully one thing’s certain, 50 years in, James Bond will remain on our screens as a Great British icon for many more years to come.

Rating: 8

Daniel Craig as 007

Ready for action: Daniel Craig as James Bond

Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem get to know eachother

Gadget man Q played by Ben Whishaw

James and Severine

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