It always makes me feel better to remember that Daniel Craig is just as Bow-Legged as I am…
I actually saw Skyfall in a Midnight IMAX Premiere this Wednesday night, but have not been able to sit down and write my review until now. It hasn’t been easy to wait either, as my praise for the film has been bursting out of me whenever anybody has asked me about it over the past several days. Now I’d been excited for Skyfall to come out for some time, I’m a huge fan of Daniel Craig as Bond and Quantum of Solace left me eager for the next film to redeem that movie’s mediocrity and return the series to the dizzying heights of Casino Royale. Unfortunately, as most of my fellow reviewers are quite aware of, that level of expectation can be a terribly double-edged sword. Sometimes that level of anticipation is rewarded, a la The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises, and the resulting cinematic experience is nothing short of breathtaking. Other times, hype can raise the bar so high for a movie that even a respectable level of quality can produce a hugely disappointing effect *Cough Cough* Prometheus *Cough Cough*. Luckily, early reviews from essentially everywhere else in the world beside the US suggested that the former was to be the case here, so I said “morning classes be Damned!” and bought a ticket for the Midnight opening this Wednesday. Even after three more days of consideration, I still stand by my opinion that Skyfall is a triumphant return to greatness for this era of Bond and ranks as my third favorite 007 movie of all time after Casino Royale and Goldfinger.
First off, if you’re worried about forgetting where the ending of QoS left the series, don’t be. Skyfall picks up on a completely new note and wisely acts almost as if the last film never happened. The opening sequence involves Bond (Daniel Craig) and fellow MI-6 agent Eve (Naomi Harris) tearing through the streets and rooftops of Istanbul, pursuing a stolen hard drive containing the identity of every NATO agent embedded in terrorist organizations around the world. Unfortunately, hitting a moving target without a clean shot from a hundred yards away ends up being a bit on the difficult side for Eve, and the thief escapes leaving Bond missing, feared dead. Three months later, MI-6 head “M” (Judi Dench) is facing the fallout from that mission when an attack on MI-6 headquarters leaves the organization reeling and summons Bond from his early retirement. The rest is purely, simply Bond.
At the risk of highlighting my age, I have to admit that Craig is my favorite Bond so far. The opening scene of Casino Royale clearly established his edition of the character as one grounded in reality, adding a sense of visceral intensity to the character’s usual winking campiness. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sean Connery but the tone of his Bond films rarely did more than entertain me. Helped along by Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, Craig’s portrayal of the character added an emotional depth to that entertainment value that is built on in Skyfall with Bond’s relationship with M as well as an exploration into his past. That being said, this is still Bond, and along with that name we still get the action, the globetrotting glamour, as well as the necessary Bond Girls and dastardly villains that we come to expect.
With regards to the first of those 007 staples, we have Berenice Marlohe as Severine, who has some great chemistry with Craig but unfortunately isn’t given much to do besides looking gorgeous (Although she knocks it out of the park on that account). A bit more meat is given to Javier Bardem as Silva, the film’s villain who’s finesse for cyber-terrorism is matched only by his desire for revenge against M and the rest of MI-6. Bardem looks a bit odd as a blond and there were a few few scenes in which I couldn’t quite tell what sort of bad guy he was intended to be (especially one scene which starts off with Silva making an unexpected homosexual advance on a chair-bound Bond, which comes out of left field at first but ends up being pretty amusing with the way Craig plays off of it), but as the film builds towards its finale he firmly establishes himself among the franchise’s most imposing villains.
Judi Dench is sold as usual, no surprises there. Naomi Harris is also a great presence whenever she’s on screen, and without spoiling anything I can at least tell you that this will not be the last we see of her. Ralph Fiennes is one of my favorite British actors and when I heard he was joining the cast I was very excited, but like Marlohe he isn’t given that much to do. I was pleasantly surprised by Ben Whishaw, who I really enjoyed in Cloud Atlas earlier this month and shines here Q. Whishaw’s quiet self confidence is a great foil to Craig’s bravado.
The Verdict: 9.0/10 Incredible
Skyfall isn’t anything profound. It didn’t change my life, it didn’t even do that much that hasn’t been done before my other similar films. What it did do, however, was make me feel more justified in spending $18 for an IMAX ticket than I have in years. Skyfall does everything it means to and does it damn well, from the incredibly ambitious and well-executed action sequences (including an amazing motorcycle chase across the rooftops of Istanbul) to the Home-Alone-On-Steroids finale. Honestly, when it comes down to it I award scores based on how satisfied I was with the movie going experience, and Skyfall has the nowadays-rare combination of substance and presentation that should easily make it your first choice to see this fall.
Dan the Man Movie Reviews: 8.5/10
Fogs’ Movie Reviews: A++
Fast Film Reviews: 4/5
Marked Movies: 3.5/5
A Constant Visual Feast: (Very Positive)