Movie review: Skyfall
It's been quite the year for old Blighty. Not only did we have Her Majesty celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, but we also had an amazing summer of sport courtesy of Team GB.
Just when you thought that the nation's patriotism was waning, one other British icon is left, ready to celebrate his fifty years of service to his country. So don't put away the bunting just yet, as it's time to enjoy the explosive exploits of a certain team JB.
It's been a rocky ride for the twenty-third film in the series, with MGM getting hit by financial woes and the film getting suspended in 2010, which is why it's been four years since 007's last adventure on the screen. But you can't keep a good spy down, and Daniel Craig reprises the role for a third time in real style.
Tracking down his target in Turkey, James Bond (Craig) runs into a spot of bother. The result is that MI6 lose some of their confidence in him. Still, M (Judi Dench) has his back, to a certain extent.
After a spell of job re-training, M sends Bond back into the field, in the hope of retrieving extremely sensitive data contain the identities of other active agents around the world. On his travels Bond soon learns that it's no ordinary hacker who has got his hands on the information, but a dastardly criminal mastermind going by the name of Silva (Javier Bardem).
What Bond also quickly discovers is that Silva isn't interested in the information for financial gain, he's interested in it purely for revenge, with his eyes very much focused on a certain someone in MI6...
After the somewhat disappointing turn that was Quantum of Solace, director Sam Mendes has taken the Bond series back to its roots. Although it makes for an interesting sound bite, Mendes has categorically not done a Christopher Nolan (and if you hear anyone say this out loud, feel free to ignore them from this point on as they clearly don't know what they're talking about); this is not a re-invention of Bond but a definite re-affirmation of the classic character.
In recent outings there was a chance that James Bond was become more of a caricature than a character; with this entry though Craig now appears to have settled comfortably into the role and not only has he brought a more human touch to the iconic character, but is also making Bond his own.
From the incredible pre-title sequence – which has to be the most intense and dramatic ever – Mendes delivers one of the most satisfying 007 instalment in recent years. Part of its success is due to its back to basics story; it's little more than Bond having to track down and confront a villain – it really couldn't be simpler.
But the richness comes from Mendes' ability to tell the story. At its core it's a film about relationships, the most evident being that between M and Bond; never has the bond (as it were) between them been more touching.
And then there's Javier Bardem. Again, reflecting on the series through the ages, Mendez has allowed Bardem to not only go to town but also completely embrace being a Bond villain; Bardem's quirky performance as Silva is one of the most enjoyable in recent years, and easily puts him up there as one of the greatest Bond villains of all times and will certainly be remembered for years to come.
It's also nice to see that Bond has come home in more ways than one; much of the film was shot here in the UK, which is not only fitting considering the milestone year we're in for the franchise, but also proves that action films work can work perfectly well on home soil.
But it's not all perfect scores all round from the judges. There appears to be a downsizing on the Bond girls' front, with only one technically speaking, in the shape of Bérénice Marlohe who plays Sévérine.
There's also Adele's instantly forgettable theme tune, that although does the job, it certainly won't go down as a classic.
Although geeks the world over may be disappointed with the complete lack of gadgetry, at least Ben Whishaw makes the grade as a younger version of Q.
And there's no denying that Bardem knocks his role of baddie out of the park, it's still somewhat disappointing that there's no sign of a secondary villain in a similar vein to Jaws or Oddjob. Another sign of austere measures no doubt.
None of these things take that much of a sheen of the film as a whole however. It may have been a long time coming but Skyfall was certainly worth the wait.
Mendes hasn't given Bond a make-over, he's simply returned to the true nature of the original character, and the series benefits from it greatly.
In this fiftieth year of James Band on our screens, Skyfall is the perfect celebration of all things Bond.
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