With 25 Bond films now in the books over a period of 50 years, I can honestly say that the direction the famed series is going in these days is a good one. For the most part, I’ve never really been a die-hard fan of the movies. I have seen every one of them at least twice though (could I really call myself a “movie buff” if I hadn’t?) and sadly, the majority of them are not good. Even worse, a handful of them are horribly bad (like Moonraker or The World is Not Enough to name a couple). But when Daniel Craig took the reigns in Casino Royale, he breathed new life into the series.
His next film Quantum of Solace was not as good, but didn’t harm the series’s new found momentum. With this third installment though, James Bond has retaken his rightful place atop the action adventure spy/thriller genre.
In Skyfall, Bond finds himself not really the center of the story but his boss M (Judi Dench) is featured. As head of MI6 she has had to make any number of tough decisions over the years, which held the lives of her agents in the balance.
During one of Bond’s missions to retrieve a stolen encoded list of every British agent undercover, she makes one such decision that results in the mission’s failure and Bond’s apparent death. While Bond wastes away in Margaritaville, recovering and brooding from his bosses decision, MI6 is attacked and M made to watch, helpless to stop it. This news pulls Bond out of his drunken malaise and he reports in to MI6, but sadly fails the battery of tests necessary to report for active duty. It seems Bond has lost a step or two. and as England’s politicians debate whether or not MI6 should even exist M is told that she will be relieved of her commission in 2 months time.
An investigation of the attack shows that whomever the attacker, was also the person who acquired the list of undercover British agents and that M is in fact the ultimate target. With no one else to turn to and facing a forced retirement M turns to 007 (falsifying his test results to get him back to active duty) to get to the bottom of things.
Daniel Craig gives us his best performance as Bond to date although the movie makes a point of showing us that he’s aged since we last saw him. Whether he’s aged we’ll or not is up for debate though (didn’t he always have those huge ears?). Judi Dench, previous to Skyfall’s release had gone on record to say that she didn’t want to continue to play the role of M so the movie’s plot wasn’t that much of a surprise to me but her performance was indeed a surprise. Out of the main performances in the film, hers was the least likable. She seemed tired but dutiful portraying M and with the movie’s plot centering around her that’s a shame. Her performance doesn’t detract so much from the movie that it cripples it, but she’s done much better in other installments to be sure.
The jewel of this film is Javier Bardem who plays the movies villain, Silva. Silva is a presumed dead MI6 agent (most likely a former “Double O”, although the movie never says it outright) who blames M for sending him to what they both thought was his death. When Bardem is onscreen, a very creepy fear and tension radiate so the audience knows for a fact that his character is more than capable of destroying both Bond and his boss.
The movie is almost two and a half hours long. but I didn’t check for the time once. Every scene is deliberate and meaningful. Either to tell us that Bond still has “it” despite being a little bit older, or that Silva could be the one to finally put an end to the famous spy.
The pleasant surprises in this movie center around the new faces playing some of the old favorites we’ve come to know and love from the series. I won’t spoil who they are. although the trailers give away one with Ben Whishaw now playing the role of Q (short for Quartermaster…did you know that? I didn’t), but I will say that I approve of them all and look forward to seeing how they will preform in upcoming films.
All and all, Skyfall is very much worthy of being this series representative as it celebrates its Golden Anniversary and very much worthy of your hard earned coin to see it.