Review: ‘Skyfall: An Instant James Bond Classic
It’s been four long years for die hard James Bond fans like me, for the debut of the 23rd 007 movie ‘Skyfall’. Only once in the series (between 1989’s ‘Licence To Kill’ and 2005’s ‘GoldenEye’), have fans had to wait longer for a new Bond flick. The problem with a gap that long is that expectations grow as the wait increases. This time, the wait was well worth it.
Daniel Craig is back for the third time in the title role, and he continues to strengthen his case as the second best actor (behind Sean Connery) of the six to ever play the part. In fact, when you consider what author Ian Fleming envisioned when he created Agent 007 back in 1953 (a darker, more flawed character), Craig is actually the most authentic Bond ever.
In ‘Skyfall’, the traditions of the classic ‘cloak and dagger’ James Bond world are thrust against today’s ‘digital age’. Human instinct versus the marvels of modern technology. A number of the Bond essentials are back in this movie (cars, guns, clothes, supporting cast), including a few that have been on the sidelines for the last couple of installments.
The producers have made a special effort in this film to pay homage to the previous 50 years of Bond films, starting with ‘Dr. No’ in 1962. Longtime 007 fans will be delighted at some of the links to the past. If you’re watching the movie with a Bond novice, make sure you bring them up to speed after the closing credits.
Sam Mendes (‘American Beauty’, ‘Road to Perdition’) makes his debut as a Bond director in ‘Skyfall’. His 007 relies less on gadgets and gimmicks and more on humanity and instinct. There is as much character development in this movie as in any Bond film I can remember.
Dame Judi Dench is back as Bond’s boss ‘M’ for the seventh time in the franchise and is a central part of the film’s plot. Bond fans who are accustomed to seeing ‘M’ merely barking out orders from some cushy office while 007 is out in the field getting into all sorts of scrapes, are in for a big surprise this time around. Nobody does it better than Dench who, at nearly 78 (her birthday is December 9th), can now add ‘action hero’ to her long list of credits.
Spanish actor and Oscar winner Javier Bardem (‘No Country for Old Men’) plays the villian, Raoul Silva. Bardem is part Anthony Hopkins in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and part Jack Nicholson’ in ‘The Shining’. He also brings a lightheartedness and humanity to a Bond villian rarely seen.
The backdrops for ‘Skyfall’ move from Turkey to China to London to Scotland and the action scenes are offset with some first class story telling. ‘Skyfall’ was worth every one of the four years it took to get to the screen. Let’s hope it’s not another four before Bond 24.