Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
Suffice to say, I was quite looking forward to watching this movie ever since I saw the first trailer. I’ve enjoyed all of the Bond movies that Daniel Craig had done (though I do remember more from Casino Royale than Quantum of Solace) so naturally I was excited to see this one. Sure, it’s not based off any of Ian Fleming’s novels but it looked intense. Plus, Adele’s “Skyfall” is gorgeous <3 May contain spoilers ahead!
What can I say about this movie? On the one hand it’s an awesome action flick, reminiscent of the Bourne franchise in some ways (like the opening action sequence) but it’s also quite stylish. The fight sequence in Shanghai for example was a very interesting approach filming-wise with the silhouettes and the glass windows and the lights. Then again, a lot of the silhouette shots seen in this movie is just gorgeous, kudos to Sam Mendes and his cinematography theme for crafting such a look for this movie.
There’s of course the trademark efficiency and brutality in the way that Bond takes down his assailants which has become a feature in Daniel Craig’s time as Bond but despite of the constant references to his time of service, recent events and his age, he’s shown that he’s still resilient and he’s still got the moves (same goes to M, it seems like age and relevancy are major themes in this movie; perhaps reflective of the Bond franchise hitting 50 years?). On a personal note, I particularly enjoyed the way he slid down the escalator underground; while Raoul Silva lands on his belly, slides and gets up, Bond manages to land on his feet and continue running. He may not be tall and dark-haired like the previous Bond actors but that was pretty suave ^_~
But on the other hand there’s all of these stories going on. It was hinted in the trailers but M plays a very important role in the story, calling into question her continuing effectiveness as head of MI6, the decisions she’s made and, over the course of the movie, previous decisions made in the past coming back to haunt her (touching, to a lesser extent, the nature of espionage in our day and age). I had no idea however that her role was quite key to the whole story, which made things very interesting. We also see her out in the field so to speak for a little while which was a nice change of pace and adds to the final performance.
I also love that this movie also explores M and Bond’s relationship as well, especially in the latter half of the movie. Despite of his lack of adherence to authority, he does come back time and again to help M and do his job and despite of her concern over Bond’s recklessness at times, she does rely on him and places more faith in him than in most people (despite of the mishap that happened early in the movie). The connection is not overly-dramatic or in-your-face-hammered-into-you but it’s just perfect for a James Bond movie; it’s there and as always Judi Dench is fantastic, her chemistry with Daniel Craig was just wonderful.
We also got a glimpse into Bond’s past and his childhood which was a pleasant surprise. I also love that they drove an Aston Martin DB5 for a part of the movie and a classic rendition to the James Bond theme which was a lot of fun.
The supporting cast was also pretty fantastic. Javier Bardem was creepy and strangely charming as Raoul Silva, with his grand entrances, flamboyant gestures and disturbing ways of taking people out. As I’ve only watched a Bond movie here and there, he’s quite a memorable villain with that scary, scary edge to him. Ralph Fiennes is a wonderful actor period and it was nice to see him in this movie, playing both the bureaucrat but also a man who’s seen action. I love how it’s through his actions that we see what Gareth Mallory is really like. Ben Whishaw’s inclusion as the new Quartermaster was just fantastic, his scenes with Daniel Craig was just a lot of fun to watch and you could see in the way that Whishaw moves and talks in the role that this Quartermaster really knows what he’s doing underneath his youthfulness. I totally forgot that Helen McCroy was in this cast, she it was nice to see her in the few minutes she had on-screen.
Despite of the seriousness of the movie and the pressure to find Raoul Silva and undo all the chaos that he had planted, there’s these small hints of humour that I enjoyed, like Bond meeting Q for the first time or the line about M’s porcelain pitbull statue surviving the blast in her office.
I’ve been watching Bond movies since the Pierce Brosnan era and I believe I may have watched one from Sean Connery or Roger Moore in the past but I have to say, this movie sort of solidified Daniel Craig’s era as my favourite. It’s obviously reflecting personal preferences here but for me, Craig’s Bond embodies the very notion of “License to Kill” and continues to exude that sense of cold precision in the character. I hope to get to the other movies and the books at some point but I like that the recent Bond movies have had that mix of grittiness and suaveness to them (take for example this scene from Skyfall; James Bond leaps into a train carriage as the connecting carriage breaks off and manages to adjust his cuffs right after. Impressive. And I did chuckle there).
Overall, Skyfall was an action-packed story from start to finish. There wasn’t a dull moment in this film and a memorable inclusion to the franchise. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into action movies or the Bond movies.