Over the past few years, I was doubting the ability of the Bond films to stage a comeback. After the pretty bad Quantum of Solace, I had no idea how the film-makers could successfully sell Bond to audiences again. After watching Skyfall I can see just how good the Bond films can be when the right people are on board.
To start off with, the acting is brilliant across the board. Daniel Craig gives his best performance yet as James Bond providing the best mix of dramatic depth and humour in his tenure as Bond. Judi Dench does a great job as M, really selling the character haunted by her demons and starting to fall apart as her years catch up to her. Ben Whishaw does an amazing job as Q, making the character up to date for the Bond films and making him really quirky and likeable whilst still showing his intelligence (e.g. he has a Scrabble mug, and Scrabble mugs are always awesome). If there are some weak links its Naomi Harris and Berenice Marlohe, they aren't bad per say but Harris doesn't really have any chemistry with Craig (damaging for a Bond girl, especially given her role in future films, not going to spoil anything though) and Marlohe is underutilised, appearing in the film for about 15 minutes and then not showing up again. However, easily the best performance in the film is Javier Bardem as Silva, aka the best Bond villain I've ever seen. He's both incredibly creepy and great fun and you can tell that Bardem is having a lot of fun in the role. The best scenes with him are the scenes when he is interacting with Craig or Dench as they all play off of each other brilliantly. There's a really simple nature to the character on the surface which makes all of the stuff he does even more impactful when you actually get under his skin and realise the true extent of his character. There is actually a bit of Heath Ledger's The Joker in Silva, especially through Bardem's incredible performance and you should go and see the film just for his incredible performance.
In a story sense, Skyfall has the best story of the series, going back to basics, essentially ignoring the plot strands left open after Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. With this, the series is essentially reinventing itself again and is actually quite similar to the Nolan Batman films, showing how a modern day version of the character can exist without going to over-dramatic (which is another reason why Christopher Nolan should be hired to direct the next Bond film). This film deals primarily with M and Bond's pasts, giving the audience a greater insight into her character than the other Craig Bond films and this actually increases the stakes as you feel a greater connection to the characters than in the other recent Bond films, in my opinion. There are also a lot of nice little nods to the past of the Bond series, especially a really funny moment at the start of the third act which is both the funniest scene in the film and is the most fitting tribute the series can make to its 50 year history.
On a technical level the film is incredible. Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins have created some amazing action scenes, utilising silhouettes and creative lighting to their advantage to create powerful, impactful action scenes which feel very fitting for the Bond series. On a music level, the score by Thomas Newman is incredible, combining the old and the new styles of Bond music, providing a weird sort of musical tribute for Bond's 50th anniversary and the title song written and performed by Adele is incredible, a great song and a great throwback to the classic era of Bond songs from the 1960s.
There are some problems with the film though. Aside from the aforementioned problems with Naomi Harris and Berenice Marlohe, I feel that the first act of the film isn't as strong as the rest of the film. It's not bad by any means but I feel like the second and third acts are filled with much more tension and character than this one. The film actually didn't fully click for me as a really good film until Javier Bardem turned up and there some very predictable moments in the climax (which is an incredible final act, great action, great character moments and brilliant reveals for the future of the Bond franchise, again not going to spoil them in the review).
There is a lot more about Skyfall I wish I could talk about but I would be giving away key plot points in the film and, since the film hasn't been released in America yet, it feels wrong of me to give away these plot points. If you have been intrigued by what I've said or are a fan of the Bond films, then go and see Skyfall. It's fitting that for the 50th anniversary of the Bond films, we get the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films to have been released. Here's hoping that the future of Bond (which will hopefully include Christopher Nolan) will produce more films of the high quality of Skyfall.
My Rating: 4/5