Film Review – SKYFALL
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris. Director: Sam Mendes Screenplay: John Logan, Neil Purvis and Robert Wade based on Ian Fleming's character
WELL, IT'S OFFICIAL... James Bond is Scottish!!!
Celebrating James Bond’s 50th anniversary, we were expecting all the action, glamour, saucy one liner’s, car chases, special effects and one seriously good baddy. Boy, did we get it!
On arriving at the cinema, I was hit with a fantastic suspenseful atmosphere with people of all ages lining up to see the latest Bond. Instantly opening the film with a car chase between an Audi and a Land Rover, tearing up half of Istanbul, made me settle in for some serious action!
Then, no sooner are we settled when Bond is accidentally shot by a co-worker, Eve (Naomie Harris – 28 Days Later and Pirates of the Caribbean), and is hurled off the roof of a moving train, falling from a bridge, into the Daniel Kleinman titles of amazing scenes of skulls, blood, guns and half naked women! All displayed of course, with Adele’s new Skyfall track playing in the background.
Skyfall’s director, Sam Mendes, took a huge risk with this film in not recreating just another typical Bond movie. Instead, he cleverly dissects the character where the audience sees a broken, drunken, dishevelled Bond who is definitely portrayed better than Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, 2002. He is of course built back up (although seemingly not to his best) by MI6 and his task mistress ‘M’ (Judi Dench – Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace), who in my opinion, is the main Bond girl in this movie. She is harassed by her peers and political bureacrats (Ralph Fiennes – Schindler’s List and The English Patient) who want her to retire. She refuses to do so, until she has brought to justice those who killed colleagues in an explosion at the main MI6 building.
However, the main villain of this piece is Silva (Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men), an ex MI6 spy who has set out to seek revenge on M as she authorised him to be killed on his last mission in an attempt to save the lives of others. Bardem’s acting is exceptional and is by far the best villain of any Bond movie I have ever witnessed. He is genuinely terrifying, with a Hannibal Lector presence about him. This is so cleverly achieved, seeing as this film is rated as 12A.
Silva makes a cool but grand entrance with a speech about rats in a barrel that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck! He psychologically analyses Bond in a way that makes the viewer shudder. Later, we see Silva’s gruesome deformity during his speech to M which just adds to his psychopathic character and would have made even Sean Connery’s cool portrayal of Bond crack! I couldn’t help but absolutely love Bardem’s role as the ultimate Bond villain. I have never watched a Bond film and felt genuinely scared of the bad guy, until now. I read that Bardem tried to appear like the ‘Jaws’ character we saw in The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977, while putting his own spin on what a villain should be. He achieved this and more without the use of special effects, just exceptionally brilliant acting.
We are also introduced to Ben Whishaw, the new Quarter Master (Q) in place of John Cleese. This was the only part of the film I felt disappointed. Director, Sam Mendes, clearly wanted to put a fresh spin on his new Bond film, however, there are just some aspects of Bond that shouldn’t be changed. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I look forward to the scenes where Bond is introduced to Q’s latest gadgets. This unfortunately never happens. The new Q, who looks like he's just out of nappies, gives Bond a radio and a handgun!!! Even James Bond states, “It’s hardly Christmas, is it?”
The finale was filmed on location in Glencoe, Scotland which gave a beautiful but eerie presence to the film. In a bid to add a fantastic touch to the movie for any Bond fan, James and M travel up to Scotland in the same Silver Aston Martin DB5 that Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger, 1964 and Thunderball, 1965. The Connery-era car even had the same gadgets with passenger ejection seat and machine guns set under the front lights. The audience learns where James Bond grew up and tells of his past, brilliantly executed by Albert Finney’s character, Kincade.
Bond and Kincade’s relationship reminded me of the Alfred and Bruce Wayne relationship in Batman, where Kincade raised Bond after his parents died. His entrance into the film is grandly achieved by shooting one of the bad guys with a shotgun and then announcing, “Welcome to Scotland!” The actual Skyfall house was originally built in Surrey, England and then transported up to Scotland. During an interview, Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem all stated that they loved being on location in Glencoe as it was beautiful.
This film hit every note while not adhering to the typical Dr No storyline which, let’s face it, got boring during the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan eras. Daniel Craig’s introduction to James Bond in Casino Royale allowed the audience to see Bond in the beginning with Bond trying to find his feet. Skyfall shows Bond in his later days, almost like he’s lived through all the Dr No, Goldfinger and Die Another Day films since we last saw him.
What made Sean Connery the ultimate James Bond for me was his coolness under pressure, the quirky one liners and the fixing of his tie after he had just pummelled five or six men! This was lost during the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan years, where they often looked panicked and rushed. Daniel Craig has that same suave coolness that Sean Connery had, not to mention he is easy on the eye!! Before watching Skyfall, I would have said Sean Connery was the ultimate James Bond, however, now I feel like I have been on a Bond journey from start to finish with Daniel Craig.
Skyfall has blown the other Bond films out of the water, what a fantastic way to celebrate 50 years. Happy Birthday Mr Bond!!!
Daniel Craig’s my favourite Bond now, who's yours?