James Bond is Craig… Daniel Craig. Though my doubt of Craig’s casting as Bond quickly vanished after my first viewing of CASINO ROYALE, it’s with SKYFALL where I can truly appreciate and cherish Craig’s portrayal of the classic character. I grew up watching the James Bond films of Roger Moore’s era, but I’ve gone back and watched Sean Connery’s films as well as the other three Bonds and I can tell you right now, without the shadow of a doubt, SKYFALL is the best Bond film ever.
Before I dig into the actual film, allow me to focus for a moment on how relieving it is to finally have this new Bond film. After all the MGM idiocy over the past few years, the possibility of a new Bond film was dwindling. With attached director Sam Mendes becoming tiresome of the delay, SKYFALL looked to actually be up in the sky. Thankfully Sony and their Columbia/TriStar studio entered into the fray to get the project back on track.
SKYFALL opens with a thrilling, fast-paced action sequence that perfectly sets the tone for the next two-and-a-half hours to come. In this sequence, the audience truly gets to see how vulnerable and human James Bond can really be. The conclusion of the sequence leads into the opening credits which are graced by an enchantingly beautiful main theme by Adele, appropriately titled ‘Skyfall’.
I don’t want to spoil anything as this film definitely deserves to be viewed and enjoyed spoiler-free, so what follow this will be my thoughts on the film’s strengths/weaknesses without actually giving away any story details.
As already stated, Craig is Bond. While he’s a lot more physically menacing in appearance than past Bonds, the charm and cockiness stay firmly in place. I could tell that he’s clearly aged since he appeared in QUANTUM OF SOLACE four years ago, but he’s undeniably still on his A-game in Skyfall.
Javier Bardem – wow… Javier Bardem. The man enters into the Bond universe as a quirky nut-job and exits as one of the most terrifying villains in the franchise history. As Silva, Bardem delivers a performance that I’d almost deem worthy of award consideration once the season begins. At first, I thought Silva’s introductory scene in the film was a little too long and dragged out, but as the film continued, I realized it was the perfect introduction to the character. Once Bardem appeared on screen for the first time, I couldn’t wait for him to reappear. The only downside to the character was the clear-as-day bleached eyebrows, though it was nothing serious enough to damper my reaction.
Dame Judi Dench is as fantastic as always and in many ways, this is just as much M’s film as it is Bond’s. The M seen in SKYFALL is that of a different nature; she’s desperate, strong and reveals a tough-love motherly side that’s not blatantly obvious, but easy enough to see if you pay close enough attention. Along with her is Bond newcomer Ralph Fiennes who did a marvelous job in his portrayal of Gareth Mallory (then again, when isn’t Fiennes marvelous?). I certainly hope to see Fiennes return in the future for more Bond installments.
The honor of depicting Bond ladies this time around goes to Naomie Harris as Eve and Bérénice Marlohe as Sévérine. I was thoroughly impressed by Harris throughout the film. Her character of Eve is as equally charming as Bond and one who comes with a pleasant surprise. Marlohe, on the other hand, I found to be quite mediocre. I didn’t care at all for her character while she was on-screen and it seemed like her “relationship” with Bond felt severely forced.
On the behind-the-camera side of things, Mendes was a fantastic choice for director. He clearly led the cast and crew in the right direction because SKYFALL looks great, moves at a great pace and the actors give it their all. He’s a definite improvement over QUANTUM OF SOLACE’s Marc Forster and on the same level as (if not better than) Martin Campbell, director of CASINO ROYALE.
Overall, SKYFALL’s pretty damn near-perfect. The look into Bond’s past before MI6, M’s connection to the villain and the re-introduction of some former Bond mainstays make for one intriguing thrill-ride. If you’re a fan of action films, you’ll most-certainly enjoy SKYFALL, but if you’re an actual fan of James Bond’s adventures, then you’re in for a treat. The producers and the studio have a lot to live up to for the next 007 film.
Final Thoughts are an opinion, not a review. I don’t believe that anyone should base their own opinion on that of another person. Reviewers and critics are just regular people like everyone else and their opinion shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all. What you just read were my Final Thoughts of SKYFALL. I hope you share yours.