Skyfall is the 23rd James Bond movie in the EON Productions and, if you want to be pedantic, the 25th theatrically released James Bond film overall, if you included the spoof Casino Royale and the unofficial Never Say Never Again.
The people behind Bond have taking a bold step by employing Oscar winner (and serious director) Sam Mendes, to take the Bond franchise into its second half century, and it’s a gambit that has paid off.
You might like to know that Skyfall is the second time that Daniel Craig and Mendes have worked together, after 2002’s Road to Perdition (an odd film where Forrest Gump kills 007).
The most significant change to Bond in this latest film, is that it seems to be clearly aimed at a grown up audience. Bond still has his licence to kill but he’s is expected to be, “Less of a random killing machine, more of a personal statement.” This is obviously a big plus for the film, but it’s also its biggest fault as well, Skyfall delivers grown-up thrills and excitement, but it lacks the boyish charm of earlier Bond films (you can’t please all of the people all of the time).
Skyfall makes a real effort to have its cake and eat it, as the pre-title sequence crams in a car-motorbike-earth mover-train chase, with gun / fist fights and a couple of very impressive stunts. Before Adele’s theme song swells and titles roll, the audience has had their Bond appetite sated, but the rest of the film takes a considerably more mature approach to the work of Mr Kiss-kiss bang-bang.
MI6 is attacked, a McGuffin knock list is lost and it seems that James Bond is the only man M can rely on to save the day. This plot setup is just an excuse to introduce one of the most memorable, and certainly one of the most entertaining Bond villains in recent memory, a former MI6 operative Raoul Silva (a reptilian sinister/charismatic Javier Bardem), with a very personal issues against M.
All of the traditional Bond pieces are in place and are but they are given a more measured and less pyrotechnic spin in many ways. Bond engages in a little more soul searching and a little less of the spectacular spy spectacle.
Skyfall does seem to represent a new age of Bond and there are three stand out audition-like performances, that give a clear indication to the direction Bond is heading. Ralph Fiennes further feathers his retirement nest after the (death of Voldemort) as Gareth Mallory, the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, Ben Whishaw turns up as the fourth (and by far the youngest) Q, someone who “can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pyjamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you (Bond) can do in a year in the field.” Which makes sense as Q would now be a young technical genius (rather than a crackpot professor type). Finally the (very impressive) Naomie Harris turns up as a Bond girl who looks like a (very welcome) semi – permanent fixture in the franchise
Judi Dench is back as M and there is a very welcome cameo from Goldfinger.
Skyfall has no qualms about shaking up its Bond pedigree and is quite open and honest about what it’s delivering. Skyfall is as different to Octopussy, as The Dark Knight is to Batman Forever.
For example Q, having just given bond the bare minimum of gadgets says, “Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that anymore.” Although such a device was good enough for Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye just seven films ago. There is still a vodka martini (shaken not stirred), there are still sex scenes, there is still Daniel Craig’s sixpack, there is still a super villain and a day to be saved but Skyfall is quite unlike any Bond film that has gone before.
Skyfall Trailer Video
Skyfall Movie Details
Director: Sam Mendes
Producer: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
Writter: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Lim Marlohe, Albert Finney
Music: Thomas Newman
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Editor: Stuart Baird, Kate Baird
Studio: Eon Productions
Release date: 23 October 2012 (London, premiere)