The 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise, “Skyfall,” does almost everything perfect. With veteran 007 recognized as an efficient secret agent, Daniel Craig brings, yet again, more character, physicality and convincing emotion to the hardened hero.
First-time Bond director Sam Mendes set out to return 007 to its roots for the 50th anniversary of the well-known franchise. Continuing the series unconnected to the previous film “Quantum of Solace,” one would expect “Skyfall” to borrow from the introduced terrorist organization of Quantum, created in the last film. But with a fresh script that transcends fans’ expectations, the story takes Bond into a different direction that hits closer to home.
Another first for the series is the lack of guidance of original author, Ian Fleming. Writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan effectively transitioned the series to become a practical fit for modern times, while keeping connections to the old spy world that it purposely sends to the morgue.
Mendes, known for his Oscar-winning films, “American Beauty” and “Road to Perdition,” transforms the universe of Bond into a tangible fiction that keeps enough practicality to make some over-the-top stunts acceptable.
For example, Bond begins the film chasing a gunman who has stolen a computer chip with a list of undercover agents working across the globe. With the botchy help of fellow agent Eve, played by Naomie Harris, Bond ends up duking it out on top of a moving train. When things begin to look sour for the secret agent, Bond’s superior, M, again played by Judi Dench, gives the call for Eve to shoot down the tough adversary, but she mistakenly hits Bond instead.
And so, Bond is presumed dead, the chip is successfully stolen and chaos begins to consume M16. The opening action scene stuns and wows with its jaw-dropping motorcycle chase through the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, ultimately leading onto the speeding cargo train. However, the action contained a little too much of the movie-industry ridden CGI, visibly airbrushing the characters in movement and taking some realism away from the beautifully shot scene. Luckily, the film contains most of its nauseating computer effects in the opening chase sequence, utilizing instead great story telling and real special effects for the rest of the flick.
Mendes successfully adds distinguished grit to the camera angles and a rugged ambiance, thereby effectively portraying the globalizing culture of modern Metropolises with set locations in London and Shanghai.
Since rebooting the Bond series in 2006 with “Casino Royale,” Craig continues to be the best thing to ever happen to the role. His realism, sophistication and believability portray a James Bond that has been evolving since his entrance into the character.
“Skyfall” shows us a James Bond weathered by experience, nearly losing his edge that renders him physically unfit to perform the skills he has killed for. The introduction of Gareth Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes, establishes another British superior doubting Bond’s abilities in the field or perhaps pushing him to be the agent that M16 needs.
New threat Raoul Silva, played by the diabolical Javier Bardem, gives M16 a run for its sanity. Issuing a madness not seen in a villain since the Sean Connery films, Bardem effectively puts the British Secret Service in a virtual vice. The mastermind employs the use of cyber warfare that combines with his intimate knowledge of MI6 to leave the agency in turmoil. Bardem’s supreme talents as an actor make for one of the best Bond villains of all time.
There is a reason “Skyfall” will most likely go down as the greatest Bond film since the ’60s. It takes us to an unexpected place that will leave you thanking everyone who participated in its production. Expect a seasoned Craig, gritty filmmaking from director Mendes and a fresh perspective on the franchise that still revels in bringing back Bond fan’s favorite tech-savvy ally, Q.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kyle Ward at Kyle.email@example.com.