Even though Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were Bond films 21 and 22 respectively, they were the start of James Bond becoming an agent and essentially preceding all the other films. Current James Bond, Daniel Craig, stated prior to production for Skyfall that this would be a much more familiar Bond than his previous outings. Craig to this point had been a stripped down version as an intelligent brute with a Walter PPK. And there are no complaints there, after all that is why we have been such big fans recently of Jason Bourne or Bryan Mills – very serious men who can kick some serious ass. Craig, director Sam Mendes, and all others involved with the making of Skyfall are looking to prove just why James Bond the spy is the one all other action movie characters bow down to.
A brief introduction to the plot of Skyfall is as follows: Bond is presumed dead after failing his latest mission to retrieve a hard drive containing the names of dozens of spies but returns to active duty when M’s (Judi Dench) life is threatened by a former spy, Silva (Javier Bardem), who also is the one that wanted the stolen the hard drive of names. Being a former spy, Silva knows all the tricks of the trade and proves to be a nightmare for MI6 especially with his advanced knowledge of technology. In order to combat Silva’s onslaught Bond is aided by some new faces for MI6 including Eve (Naomie Harris), Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), and Q (Ben Whishaw). Click here for the trailer.
If this plot sounds somewhat familiar, well it kind of is. In Goldeneye, Bond ended up needing to battle a former agent that has a vendetta with MI6. But that is not by any means a negative attribute. Many past films have had villains that are similar to preceding films. Also in You Only Live Twice, the opening sequence suggests Bond is dead. With 22 Bond films already in existence, it is hard to be completely original.
But there is still originality to Skyfall especially with its villain and how he relates to M. Even though Silva is a former spy he is very different from Sean Bean’s 006 in Goldeneye. Silva is just as bitter but is more of a showman about it. Bardem plays him perfectly as and is more of a threat because in Goldeneye, 006 had a right-hand man that handled the technologies while in Skyfall it appears Silva actually does it all as the mastermind and technician. His intelligence now fueled by his drive for vengeance against M who he believes betrayed him, leaving him for dead but (as he admits) he unfortunately survives.
If it is not already obvious M is a major part of the story. Since Bond has been out of commission for so long his skills and fitness are hindered but M vetoes all of Bonds failed tests to get him out in the field because he is her best agent. She never says it really but a lot is inferred. Now it is no secret that the field agents all refer to M for “mum/mom/mother” (whatever your preference) but what this movie really solidifies is the M is really the mother that Bond never had. Even though he disobeys her orders he always way has her best interests at heart and she will always have his back when it comes to defending him before her superiors. I guess in a way you could say M/Judi Dench was a “Bond Girl” in Skyfall because she was ultimately the one he was trying to save/defend.
While on the topic of Bond girls, Skyfall features two in Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe. Harris is responsible for the initial thought that Bond is dead but she makes her amends with him on a few occasions later in the movie. How does she rank as a Bond girl? Well Harris is plays a sexy Eve who is as dangerous as she is attractive which is better than past Bond girls but she does not have sex with Bond losing some points. As for Marlohe, she is just as attractive but is of no real threat other than the berretta strapped to her thigh but she does sleep with Bond which leaves her on even footing with Harris in this movie.
The final two fresh faces I will briefly touch on are Whishaw as Q and Fiennes as Mallory. This is a much younger Q than we are used to seeing but that is what helps make him modern. Staying with modern he does not focus on advanced weaponry like an “exploding pen” (great gag in the movie) but instead relies heavily on networks and computer tracking. As for Mallory, he is the one who mediates between M and her superior and is a former agent of sorts so he understands how MI6 function even if it is not to the Prime Ministers liking.
Lastly I want to touch on how the film felt under the direction of Sam Mendes. All I can say is how beautifully shot this movie was with the vibrant colors, camera angles, and over all cinematography. Personally my favorite she is the silhouetted fight scene between Bond and Patrice (Ola Rapace). You cannot see any of their features just the outline of their bodies amongst the blues, greens, and purples – so awesome. But at times, I will also add, it got annoying. Yes we get that Daniel Craig has the bluest of blue eyes anyone has ever seen but the constant focus on them felt odd. That and they always showed him posing as if for a photo like on the little boat in China or staring off in the distance and the British flag. Felt more like an advertisement than a movie. I know I am knit-picking but it just stood out to me.
Overall, Skyfall finally brings Daniel Craig into light of being best (if not already the best) actor to play Bond by finally getting some technology and a serious villain. Sam Mendes brings unusual beauty to an action film which I had previously thought impossible. I give Skyfall a 9/10.
Click here to see where Skyfall ranks on my list of favorite James Bond movies.