Casino Royale is in my top five Bond movies. It was a drastic turn in a different direction for the franchise – nothing you would have expected from a Bond movie prior. Mostly, everyone loved what it did, and it was really great. The one thing it excluded, was throwing Bond fans (not a big fan myself) a bone. Skyfall appeals to both major fans and casual watchers. The sequel, Quantum of Solace, was an alright B-movie type action flick, I guess. Man, was it disappointing though. Now with Skyfall, I like to pretend Quantum of S… (forgot the rest) never even existed. While flaws are present, I still enjoyed this immensely and is currently in a heavy-weight battle with Casino Royale for my favorite Bond movie with Daniel Craig. The biggest positive thing to be said, is the amazing attention to detail; all elements.
Silva (Javier Bardem) – a vengeful ex-MI6-er – gets a list of all the undercover agents currently in the field. He threatens to unveil their true identities, in groups of five, on the internet. James Bond must come back from the “dead” to put a stop to Silva’s plans. Silva is devious, relying more on cyberspace weapons and other thing that Bond isn’t necessarily accustomed too; also, has Bond lost a step? Q. (Ben Whishaw) upgrades Bond the best he possibly can, but the question is, will that fix all his issues? Silva is hell bent on completing his mission. His ultimate goal, however, is to kill M, (Judi Dench), whom he blames for his sudden demise a while back.
Sam Mendes is easily the finest director this franchise has ever had. Mendes is best known for his three best movies (that’s the way it should be), American Beauty, Road to Perdition, and Revolutionary Road. I was pleasantly surprised when first hearing he was going to direct. Mendes did falter some throughout, but overall his effect was a highly positive one. Like I alluded to earlier, there is a vast attention to detail, this is largely contributed from him. All the scenes have something in them even if it’s hard to see (caught a lot of little things in my second viewing). A slick style is used that brings the movie to another level. What Mendes also does is build up the story. Instead of filling you up on all the details in the beginning, he lets the story slowly start to come together. Aside from having a beyond passable story, but tension is aloud to build too.
The screenplay did numerous things right. It was written by Ian Fleming, Robert Wade, John Logan, and Neal Purvis. All have at least worked a bit on all the previous two Bond movies – I was surprised to find out that John Logan wrote the screenplays for The Aviator and Rango and co-wrote the screenplays for Gladiator and The Last Samurai. The story along with the characters are fleshed out. M finally gets her moment in the spotlight. You get a sense of her moral beliefs and her relationship with Bond; it was a joy to get to go deeper into M. Most of the time; the villain is just given the absolute basic ingredients enough to function. Silva has many dimensions, at one point I even felt bad for him. The character of Bond is still being expanded on. I loved the subtle effect they used to discuss his past – wouldn’t have been the same if they spelled it out. The script goes deep; only flaw is at times the humor would miss.
Daniel Craig narrowly edges out to be my all-time favorite Bond. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many great Bond’s and most have been extremely good. But, I feel Craig brings more to the character than anyone else ever did. In Casino Royale he played the character extremely well while doing similar things and also injecting other aspects. Gone was this type of performance in the sequel, Quantum of Solace. Granted, though, it was mainly the material that bogged everything down including him. Here, Craig is back better than ever. Everything about the performance is executed to near-perfection. There is that saying that a movie is as good as its villain; well, you can check that off. Javier Bardem is outstanding. He delivers his lines with such a great quality. It seems like when he plays a villain, they give him the worst haircut ever. Judi Dench finally gets to shine – she relishes this every second she’s on screen. Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, and Ben Whishaw nail their roles as well.
The cinematography is just amazing. This of course is due to the fact that they brought in someone beyond great, Roger Deakins. Let me just list some of the movies he’s done the cinematography for… The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, True Grit (2010), Revolutionary Road, The Reader (co-worked on it), and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. You can now add Skyfall to his the long list of outstanding projects he’s worked on. The look is perfect and glued my eyes to the screen; I never looked away. Interesting shots and one scene has a great use of shadows that boosts it up big-time.
The action is almost flawless. You know there is going to be a big opening sequence to start everything off. It’s crafted well and starts of with a bang. Now, there isn’t a surplus of action; the trailer promised more. Whenever it is on it’s exceptionally filmed. The only negative part dealing with the action, is a couple of times it would cut away a few seconds before it should have been. What is absent from action movies no a days is avoided in this case – The action scenes actually mean something. Overall, I like how the story is most important. Pacing was never an issue, not once did I get tired of action or got bored by dialog. Problems stuck out a few times, but this was a perfect way to celebrate Bond’s 50th anniversary.