3 1/2 Stars
M (Judi Dench) is under fire by her political superiors for a security breach that leads to the bombing of MI-6 and the loss of a file containing the identities of covert agents currently undercover in terrorist cells the world over. Bond is out of practice but on the job to clear M’s name and recover the list from a shadow figure that seems to have ties within the government agency. The storyline is arguably a recycling of the ‘knock list’ plot device from the first Mission Impossible and the disgruntled ex-agent villain from the series’ own Goldeneye. Yet, the style and tone here is far more serious and topical.
As if working directly from Christopher Nolan’s playbook director Sam Mendes brings a biting sense of realism to a once cartoonish character and world. No longer is the villain plotting world domination from deep within an impregnable hideaway. Instead we are presented with a devastatingly realized former agent turned terrorist, in the form of the sexually ambiguous, Raoul Silva. Javier Bordem brings his steely focus to the juicy role, there is depth, darkness and themes presented here that have never been explored in the 50 year history of the franchise.
This is one of the most handsome looking films of the year, highlighted by a brilliantly mounted fight scene that takes place in a backlit glass room. These artistic touches are a welcomed bit of creative flourish that serve equally to cover up plotholes in the script.
As I sat there and watched Daniel Craig sprint across the screen, I realized the Bond pictures have been a huge and eagerly awaited event every couple of years for the past quarter century of my life. My introduction to the character was back in 1987 with Timothy Dalton’s inaugural entry The Living Daylights. So began my long devotion to a franchise that has delivered some of the great action set-pieces and double entendres of my film going career. That’s truly what separates the pre-Craig Bond pictures, those earlier plots were essentially a series of setups that typically served as a clothesline to hang three memorable stunts/chase or action sequences on. Now it seems that the attention once paid to gimmicks and inventive gadgets is being aimed at scripting and characters’ emotional development. Skyfall is James Bond in the post Dark Knight era, for better or worse.
Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench