“So this is it, we’re both played out?” enquires Daniel Craig’s 007 of Judi Dench’s M a little after the beginning of the 23rd Bond installment. Not to worry, apparently there is still plenty to be played since Skyfall marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic franchise, which makes it the longest-lasting one in the history of cinema. Yet, for all the experience and applaud Mr. Bond has accumulated through the years, the moviegoers who are not completely infatuated and unquestionably loyal to the Bond series (myself included) would probably wonder if Skyfall adds up to just “another Bond movie”. Does it follow the beaten track of its predecessors or is there something different this time around (besides a new femme fatale on 007’s arm that is)?

The answer, fortunately, is an extremely pleasing one. Newly appointed director Sam Mendes still pays tribute to all the foundation elements that comprise the Bond universe – the gorgeous women, the fast cars, the impossible stunts, and the fascinating gadgets. However, he manages to skilfully reinvent Bond by stripping him down to basics and building him up again as a much more believable protagonist, who suffers in order to prove himself worthy of being the hero. Although still virtually immortal (he survives being shot with a sniper AND falling from a 300-feet-high railway bridge), 007 resurfaces after indulging in his favourite hobby of resurrection, but he is not basking in the glory of invincibility anymore. Rugged look, tormented expression, bloodshot eyes, not to mention drug and alcohol dependency…Mr. Bond has definitely lost his swagger!

He is quickly forced to try to get it back though after an attack on MI6, targeting the seemingly omnipotent until then M. From then on it’s a lot of bang bang (not without the usual share of kiss kiss) for 007. The impressive stunts that he pulls on the background of spectacular locations, including night-time beautifully lit Shanghai skyscrapers and a floating Macau casino (with hundreds of lanterns and Komodo dragons all part of the package), provide a masterful prelude to a focal point in the movie – the deserted island where James finally gets to meet the villain. With his startling blond hair, resentful M obsession and … wait for it … alarming sexually-charged interrogation of Bond, Javier Bardem’s baddie delivers a more than worthy opponent for the British agent. Silva reveals one of those seemingly calm and philosophical, Hannibal Lecter reminiscent, genuinely menacing antagonists, who are surely going to keep you at the edge of your seat. As for the rest of the cast – they all fit their parts perfectly in order to construct arguably the best 007 feature up-to-date, but again, it is Bardem who ultimately steals the show.

That’s not all, however! The film excels on other fronts as well. For one, it is the first 007 feature, which actually tries to explore the true nature of the person hiding behind the façade of agent “Bond…James Bond.” And 007 is not the only one who benefits from that. The movie devotes a fair amount of its 143 minutes to character development in general which adds a welcome amount of substance to the usual portion of wham-bam. What is more, cinematographer Roger Deakins ensures we feast our eyes with some of the most incredible visuals the franchise has ever boasted, while production designer Dennis Gassner brings the 007 series home by utilizing an array of British locations. Also, a few appropriately placed references to previous Bond films demonstrate that although Skyfall represents the 007 franchise coming of age, there is still plenty of space to honour Bond’s origins and to create a feeling of continuity. The overkill of a masterful Bond manifestation though is presented by the opening credits (courtesy of the Bond series veteran Daniel Kleiman). The sequence finds 007 swirled in surreal world inhabited by Bond-shaped targets, tombstones, shadows, blood and fire, while the accompanying Adele song provides a good amount of shivers down your spine.

However, while Skyfall reaches for the sky in some instances, it falls short and crumbles in others. Firstly, the initial save-the-world/Britain/MI6 mission bestowed upon Bond is made irrelevant half-way through the film and pushed to the back, while 007’s attempts to protect M from Silva’s personal vendetta take the central stage. This not only contributes to a lesser feeling of importance and urgency, but also tarnishes the ingeniousness of Silva’s character by diminishing him to nothing more than a psycho holding a personal grudge. Moreover, although the movie proves to be slick and extremely enjoyable for most of the time, it still struggles with some moments that appear to be overly-choreographed, including…

MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!!!

ARE YOU STILL HERE?

IF YOU CONTINUE READING, IT IS AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!

…the part where M dies at the exact moment Bond has already killed the villain and is there to catch her and deliver a heart-breaking goodbye scene.

Final words…

Similar to the new weapon which Ben Whishaw’s Q entrusts Mr. Bond with – “less of a random killing machine and more of a personal statement”, Skyfall succeeds in escaping the just-another-action-movie label and proves to have matured into the smart, somewhat profound feature a Bond film has always had the potential to be. While staying true to the franchise’s nature of escapism, elegance and overabundance of…well…everything, Skyfall still manages to add a much needed pinch of realism. As a result, the 23rd Bond film stands as the one that finally moves away from complete ridiculousness and gets closer to pure, well-measured entertainment. Half a century is a charm then? Happy anniversary, 007! Hear, hear to the next 50 years!

Verdict

4/5 Marvelous points

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About mformariya

I love films and everything that has something to do with them. I read a lot on cinema in my spare time. I actually wrote my dissertation in Business and Management on film marketing, and I am currently doing an MA in Cultural and Creative Industries with a focus on Film/TV. So basically I am interested in anything that can bring me closer to movies, regardless of the perspective. The main reason for me to start this blog is that I watch too many movies which leads to too many opinions (more than my friends can bear), so I decided to use my passion for constructive purposes :)

17 responses »

  1. “less of a random killing machine and more of a personal statement” Love that line, good review 😀

  2. mformariya says:

    thanks 🙂 I really liked that line as well, Q was good fun 🙂

  3. I have yet to see this latest episode in the Bond franchise. It is high on my list of “must-sees” and even though I may have to wait for the DVD, your description makes it seem well worth the wait. Great review, mate! 😀

  4. mformariya says:

    thanks, it’s much appreciated 🙂

  5. CMrok93 says:

    Quantum of Solace was a huge step-down for the franchise, but thankfully, this one takes it back up to where it was with Casino Royale and hopefully it stays there because it’s just so much damn fun. Good review.

    • mformariya says:

      Well, I’m usually not a huge Bond fan, I’m more of a Jason Bourne gal 🙂 Still, I think Skyfall was almost flawless and if the franchise continues in this direction, I might actually turn into a fan 🙂

  6. Nostra says:

    I never was a big fan of the Bond movies, but loved the direction the franchise went with Daniel Craig. Although the previous movie was a letdown, I absolutely loved this one!

  7. Anonymous says:

    “The impressive stunts that he pulls on the background of spectacular locations, including night-time beautifully lit Shanghai skyscrapers and a floating Macau casino (with hundreds of lanterns and Komodo dragons all part of the package), provide a masterful prelude to a focal point in the movie – the deserted island where James finally gets to meet the villain. With his startling blond hair, resentful M obsession and … wait for it … alarming sexually-charged interrogation of Bond, Javier Bardem’s baddie delivers a more than worthy opponent for the British agent. Silva reveals one of those seemingly calm and philosophical, Hannibal Lecter reminiscent, genuinely menacing antagonists, who are surely going to keep you at the edge of your seat. ” – genius 🙂
    In my opinion , best James Bond movie ever

  8. Nataliya Petrova says:

    “The impressive stunts that he pulls on the background of spectacular locations, including night-time beautifully lit Shanghai skyscrapers and a floating Macau casino (with hundreds of lanterns and Komodo dragons all part of the package), provide a masterful prelude to a focal point in the movie – the deserted island where James finally gets to meet the villain. With his startling blond hair, resentful M obsession and … wait for it … alarming sexually-charged interrogation of Bond, Javier Bardem’s baddie delivers a more than worthy opponent for the British agent. Silva reveals one of those seemingly calm and philosophical, Hannibal Lecter reminiscent, genuinely menacing antagonists, who are surely going to keep you at the edge of your seat.” – Genius 🙂
    In my opinion, best James Bond movie ever

  9. vinnieh says:

    Great review, I loved this film so much.

  10. I know Skyfall was nearly universally appreciated, but it was good to read your review and see you liked it for all the same reasons I did…including aspects that aren’t discussed as much, such as the opening credits sequence and the fantastic cinematography. I’m still debating whether this is or From Russia with Love is my favorite Bond; it’s being released on DVD here in the States in February, so I’ll give it another look then and make my decision!

    I should mention, there was one point we did differ on: I gave Skyfall an ‘Iron Man’! Nice review, Mariya!

    • mformariya says:

      Haha thank you 🙂 The only reason I could not let myself give it an Iron Man was the fact that I am not a Bond fan, so my initial predisposition not to like the movie had some effect. What can I say, I am a prejudiced creature 😀 But still it was an amazing film..I think it might have even converted me a little bit to like Bond better 😛

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