James Bond is a rare, indestructible franchise. Even after Die Another Day nobody was calling for Bond to hang up his boots, just for the series to get a new lease of life. And it got one, in the form of Daniel Craig’s rougher, more realistic character. Now in his third outing, Daniel Craig is hard to separate from the character he plays- he is the modern Bond, even when he’s playing a Swedish journalist in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Craig’s third attempt, a clear assault on the Best Bond Ever title, is possibly his best yet: as intelligent as Casino Royale, but with the emotional intelligence that’s been lacking from Bond films, since the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond is back with a bang (and a quiet conversation about his dead parents).
Craig is at the centre of the film but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the supporting cast. Newcomers Naomi Harris and Berenice Marlohe both bring sophistication to the Bond Girl roles, and Ben Whishaw is an out and out delight as the reincarnated form of Q (now a mid-twenties computer whizz). Most important to the film, though, are the roles played by Javier Bardem and Judi Dench. Bardem is the villainous Silva, a computer hacker bent on revenge against MI6. The camp menace is balanced out by Bardem’s fierce acting ability and some really gross prosthetics. But it is, perhaps, Judi Dench who gets the most time in the spotlight, finally having her character put under the scrutiny that she’s avoided for all the previous films. M gets to fire a gun and say ‘fuck’, so you can tell that this is important. In fact, Skyfall might go down in Bond history as the M Movie.
But don’t let that put you off too much, cos there’s plenty of Bond as well. Set piece sequences take us around the world, from Istanbul to the Caribbean, to Shanghai and Macau, but most of the action takes place back home in London (which, we must remember, is a major tourist location to the majority of the world). Funny, engaging and with an emotional heart that might seem out of place in such a famously ruthless franchise, Skyfall is the progression Craig’s Bond needed after Casino Royale and is a fitting way to celebrate 50 years of Bond movies.
Sharp and modern but with a charming reverence for legacy, Skyfall is everything you could want from a Sam Mendes’ Bond film.
|Starring:||Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomi Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Berenice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw|