D: Sam Mendes. W: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan. DP: Roger Deakins. Starring: Daniel Craig/Judi Dench/Javier Bardem/Ralph Fiennes/Naomie Harris/Bérénice Lim Marlohe/Ben Wishaw/Albert Finney/Rory Kinnear/Helen McCroy. (NOTE: Based on Ian Fleming’s characters from his James Bond book series.)
He struts, he gleams, he’s wounded, he’s heroic, and damn it, he likes his drink made a certain way. Bond is back.
Although this is Daniel Craig’s third film in Ian Fleming’s well quaffed hero’s tux, 2008’s Quantum of Solace was so dreadful most of us needed four years to get over the memory. This year’s Skyfall is brilliant in comparison. However, 2006’s Casino Royale is probably the best concept and executed film of the Craig era. And here’s why…
Skyfall runs at a whopping two and a half hours, which was survivable but annoying as the film was mostly uneven. Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, Away We Go) has a clear visual vision. Cinematographer Roger Deakins must be given high praise for his camera work. There are moments where the use of shadows and light is just astounding and will remind anyone what can be achieved through this visual medium. Deakins is an industry veteran and lends a new dark beauty to Bond’s world.
With three writers on the script this may have been the downfall of Skyfall. There are few too many easy fixes, with a planned attack ultimately feeling a bit to obvious and simplistic. The adult Home Alone-esq defense falls flat too. At times this is remedied by Javier Bardem’s grizzly and memorable turn as Craig’s enemy. Without ruining anything, it is safe to say he makes white the new black. It is also fun to see Craig against a smart villain who isn’t defined by guns and rooftop leaps. Craig continues to give his Bond depth, while harnessing this ex-military modern look. Somehow he is able to be physically imposing and dashing in a tux all at the same time.
The Bond ladies of this film are striking, but remain in their usual two categories. Judi Dench returns as her crankily head of British Intelligence, M. Dench never fails to play her competing warmth and coldness towards her Bond. Her presence elevates the film and her storyline is well developed as the maternal figure of woman. In the other category lies gorgeous French Cambodian actress Bérénice Lim Marlohe as Sévérine. As the sexual causality of the film she represents the sexual figure of woman. Unfortunately, Naomie Harris’ as Eve, Craig’s pseudo partner, could hopefully bridge the gap and be a female comrade to Bond. However, you get the feeling she’d hop into bed with him at any minute, which negates that concept.
Ultimately, Skyfall is immensely enjoyable. Composer Thomas Newman uses the canon of Bond music to his advantage, creating throwback moments that elevate the film. There are fun nods to old Bond films, but nothing is overdone or cheeky. Even Ralph Fiennes seems in place in this world. Lastly, whose ever idea it was to have Adele write and perform the theme song should get a bonus. The credits sequence is breathtaking, but so is the song. Harkening back to when Bond songs were ‘it,’ Adele’s song is truly on the mark.