Plot: James Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
Director: Sam Mendes
Released: October 2012
With the makers of the James Bond franchise seemingly doing everything they can to alienate the fan base in the run-up to the release of No Time To Die what better time to revisit the Skyfall, which at the time of release I felt was the best Bond film this side of the millennium.
Moving away from the cheesiness of the later Pierce Brosnan films, Casino Royale brought the franchise up to date injected it with some much-needed grittiness and while Quantum of Solace was a bit of a miss-step, Skyfall brought the Craig era back on track and provided the character of Bond some much-needed development universe. From its thrilling opening sequence in Istanbul, right through till the emotional homecoming in the Scottish Highlands, this film knows exactly what the audience wants to watch and how to achieve it.
Sam Mendes is really starting to put together a great catalogue of films, with 1917 the latest film to prove this, Skyfall is no different, in which Mendes produces a film where the story and the characters motivation propels the film along rather than the action, it’s clear to see that he values story and character development over producing another clone of the fast cars, guns a girls era.
This isn’t to mean that his action sequences are lacking, quite the opposite, directing them with great finesse, they are extremely exciting and artfully directed, and enjoyable to watch. He just makes sure that the action happens it is required and remains grounded enough not to take away from the rest of the film. Think the polar opposite of Michael Bay action films.
Not only does the film tell a more intelligent story than what we are used to in a Bond film and a more focused one than in Quantum of Solace, but the film also takes the time to build on what Casino Royale’s and finally make the longest-running film series feel like an ongoing story rather than a group of unconnected films with the same main character. helping the audience to feel more emotionally invested in the character and why Bond isn’t the dinosaur that everyone thought.
With Roger Deakins at the helm with the cinematography you know you’re in for a treat, making every shot feel like a work of art and bringing every location to life, which is no mean feat given that the film travels all over the world from Istanbul to London to Macau to Shanghai and eventually the Scottish Highlands.
Finally the performances. Daniel Craig once again proves the doubters wrong, myself included, giving a thoughtful, poignant and nuanced portrayal of the famous character. Dench is once again a delight and offers a much more interesting and detailed take on M, while Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Albert Finney and Naomie Harris all do well with what they are given. And what to say of Bardem, who not only steals every scene he is in but also leaves a lasting impresion as this damaged and intriguing villain, who might just be my favourite Bone Villain to date.
In summation, Skyfall can be watched as a stand-alone film and may not feel like traditional Bond movie for fans of the earlier movies, but Sam Mendes has worked hard to bring the franchise back from mediocrity and should be commended for his strong direction and aiming to make a film that’s better than just a Bond movie, if I was in charge of the Star Wars films, Mendes would be top of my list for the next film.