BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
NOVEMBER 10, 2012
What I would consider the best James Bond film yet, “Skyfall” does for the 007 series, what “The Dark Knight” did for the Batman series. The genius poured into Christopher Nolan’s Batman turned an entire generation onto a character known mainly to comic book enthusiasts. “Skyfall” takes the whimsical, two-dimensional James Bond and gives him a depth unseen in the 50 years of cinema’s 007.
Daniel Craig officially proves to me that he is the Bond to beat all Bonds. He carries himself in a way that reflects every actor that harnessed the role before him, especially challenging the cold demeanor of Timothy Dalton while producing a depth unseen in any prior portrayal of the iconic character. Craig’s Bond is often not the “best” at tradecraft but achieves what he can within his means. With fewer gadgets than previous Bonds, he relies more on instinct and scrappy nature to get him through to the end, rather than exploding pens. In “Skyfall,” we are taken to a place most viewers never would imagine, as Bond often feels like the “cool guy” we all know and love, who couldn’t possibly have any problems or baggage. In the 22 films before this, I never once asked where James Bond came from or where he grew up, but “Skyfall” takes you on the first real journey into his past.
Javier Bardem resurrects the spirit of his “No Country For Old Men” villain in his performance of Silva, an ex-agent, now seeking revenge on MI6, mainly on M (Judi Dench), the head of the 00s. Bardem channels a flamboyant yet Hannibal Lecter-like villain, with obvious psychological issues driving his revenge. Top off the cast with a new Q in the brilliantly talented Ben Whishaw, who will hopefully continue his journey with the franchise, and a subtle yet exciting performance from Ralph Fiennes, as Gareth Mallory, and “Skyfall” produces some of the best performances to date.
“Skyfall” dares to tone the film down to a personal level, where the stakes are no longer the entire world but remain much closer to the heart. 007 is given a renewed sense of importance, with an inner dialogue of whether 00s are relevant in our current culture. Emotion pours out of this film with fewer action sequences than your average Bond film, helped wholly by the stunning cinematography from Roger Deakins. The highlights include the reveal of Bardem’s character in a long take, as he walks from far away to in front of a captured Daniel Craig, along with the captivating screenplay, with much more emotion and investment than previous installments.
What feels like an unofficial reboot to the franchise, any level of Bond fanboy will be enthralled by the multiple layers of past Bond references while experiencing something new and refreshing in this 50-year-old franchise. “Skyfall” protects the longevity of the series by inserting a reinvigorated feel, even compared to Craig’s previous performances in “Casino Royale” and “Quantum Of Solace.” If the franchise continues to build on this 23rd Bond film, in much the same way, we could be looking at these films just as we do Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, as something unexpected and something we never knew we needed until we got it.
November 9, 2012
by Ian Fleming
(for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking)
Roger A. Deakins
Michael G. Wilson