Directed By: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem
Reviewed By: Ben Harris
It’s been fifty years since the adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel, Dr. No, was released in cinemas, so what better way to celebrate the milestone than releasing a twenty-third Bond movie.
Directed by Sam Mendes, ‘Skyfall’ sees Daniel Craig return for the third time as the MI6 agent, James Bond. When the identities of undercover MI6 agents go missing, Bond is soon on the case and hunting down those responsible. However, the operation ends horribly wrong and Bond is presumed dead, but once the Secret Service is attacked, and M (Judi Dench) becomes a prime target, Bond returns. Once he digs deeper into the situation, Bond realises M has secrets of her own and her connection with a cyber terrorist, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), puts them both in danger.
‘Casino Royale’ may have wiped the slate clean in regards to tone and practicality but ‘Skyfall’ is finally a Bond film that examines, questions and even emphasises the importance of its leading characters, whereas previous entries have indulged in complex storytelling.
This time around M (the ever-likable Judi Dench) is at the core of the story and her increased screen time is a resounding success. The usual controlled M is emotionally and physically tested, and the conflict between her and Silva (a camp yet menacing performance by Bardem) is a compelling and unnerving watch.
Craig continues to impress as Bond but he has different challenges ahead. He has to rebuild himself, whilst his past is unravelled. His vulnerability is exposed, which differs from the stereotypical Bond we know. These simple and relatable revelations make him more human and it’s the first time in this lengthy franchise that you start to feel unease.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Bond without gunplay. Mendes constructs engaging set pieces – the car chases are fierce, the fights are decent (slightly less brutal than Craig’s first two outings) and the explosions are spectacular. It’s also good to see Mendes and the writers reintroducing traditional characters and gadgetry. Q joins the team and brings along some interesting technology but not to worry, it doesn’t jump the shark like the tech savvy ‘Die Another Day’.
‘Skyfall’ is a more personal take on Bond but it’s still an enthralling instalment and could possibly be the most interesting one yet.