Starring: Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Naomie Harris (28 Days Later), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Judi Dench (My Week with Marilyn)
Director: Sam Mendes (American Beauty)
Writers: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade (Casino Royale), John Logan (Hugo)
Runtime: 2 hours 23 minutes
Release Date: 26 October (UK), November 9 (US)
It’s been a while since 007 checked into theatres. After the magnificent reboot that was Casino Royale, the disappointing Quantum of Solace quickly followed. The big question on everyone’s mind is which camp does Skyfall fall into? Well, I’m positively delighted to inform you that not only is Skyfall a thousand times better than Quantum, it’s one of the best outings Mr. Bond has ever seen on the silver screen.
As usual, I’m not going to spoil anything but I can say that the plot of Skyfall is great. It’s an interesting and intriguing tale of revenge, resurrection and betrayal. If you like classic Bond films, this movie has it all. You like car chases; it has several. You like explosions; there are loads. You like dry post-kill one-liners; there’s an abundance. There are many references to the old Bond films from obvious to obscure that should keep fans smiling throughout. The film’s pace in enthralling, making its long runtime pass by in an instant. By the final moments of Skyfall, you will remember why you love Bond so much.
Craig steps back into the role of James Bond and doesn’t miss a beat; he’s as good as ever. The film takes plenty of time to humanise Bond again, ignoring the superhuman machine he was in Quantum. He even gets in a few jokes without making it feel like we’re in a Roger Moore film. Harris delivers well as mandatory Bond girl Eve, and she has some great chemistry with Craig. Dench keeps up her high standard from all her previous Bonds and delivers her most heartfelt performance as M ever. Ben Whishaw is amazing as Q, playing on the youthful aspect of his portrayal well while still channelling the late great Desmond Llewelyn. But the standout here is Javier Bardem as the villain Silva. Bardem takes the cliché Bond villain and makes it fresh again, delivering a threatening yet comical performance in a similar vein to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. This isn’t a man out to take over the world. This is a man who wants his revenge and will take down anything and everything to get it, even himself if he has to.
For a guy who’s mainly known for doing dramas, Sam Mendes is a great action director. The set pieces here are phenomenal, straddling that fine line between classic, ridiculous Bond and new, grounded Bond. You could question some of the logic, but it looks so well done that you don’t care. This is mainly thanks to the gorgeous cinematography courtesy of Mr. Roger Deakins. This film looks beautiful on every level, using lighting and shadows perfectly to make every moment and location feel unique. Scenes set in Shanghai and the final moments in the moors of Scotland look particularly terrific. Deakins also understands something most action directors don’t get these days: when shooting a brawl, you keep the camera pulled back so you can see everything. The Expendables, this is not. Top it all of with a great score (though I’m still not too fond of Adele’s theme for the film), and you’ve got a presentation that skyrockets this film’s quality immensely.
Mr. Bond has reported for duty, and he has served us well. Skyfall is not just an amazing Bond film; it is an amazing film in general. The film makes Bond feel relevant and new without forgetting what made those old Bond films work. It’s not the Bourne rip-off that Quantum of Solace often felt like; this is a James Bond film through-and-through. Sam Mendes has set a high bar for the films to follow, and I can’t wait to join 007 on his next adventure, whenever or wherever that may be.
FINAL VERDICT: 10/10