Skyfall, the latest James Bond film, was released stateside just this past Friday and is already shattering box office records for the franchise. Bolstered by impressive action sequences, a tight but nuanced story, brilliant technical merits, and extremely talented performances all around, it scores big with the numbers as well as the audience.
I did as much as I could to keep from submitting to early hype before seeing it myself, and I think it payed off for the most part. I didn’t read too much about about it and I made sure to catch a showing opening weekend. From literally the first two seconds, you already get a sense of how this movie will play – not for laughs, and not as a mindless show of brawn or explosion, but as a respectful homage to the character(s) and franchise. That’s not to say the film is humorless or lacking in punch, quite the opposite actually. It’s definitely cheeky, with subtle winks to its predecessors, and it’s most certainly action-packed, beautifully captured by the cinematography, from expansive shots of barreling trains to silhouetted dances of the lethal kind. The film definitely has a lot going for it.
That said, I did find a portion of the pacing a little off at times, during the more expositional scenes and the moments of reflection. But in hindsight I know they were necessary, and perhaps it fit better than the credit I’m giving. I can at least say that I’m more than willing to see it again, with fresher eyes than I admittedly had on that particular day. I don’t want to give too much away, but this 23rd Bond entry is very much a personal story. Like many of the synopses out there, M’s past comes back to haunt her and James’s loyalty is put to the test as MI6 comes under attack. It’s not a huge leap to guess that Javier Bardem, known to be the film’s villain, is that very vestige of her past.
By the way, he steals the scene in practically every one that he’s in. He’s both amusing and frightening to watch, as you very quickly get the sense that he’s psychotic in the way where you can’t tell if a smile is good or bad for you. Bond’s approach against him is equally engaging in how his seeming glibness belies his stoicism. Daniel Craig is fantastic again as 007, every bit the seasoned agent that you knew he’d become after watching Casino Royale. And as the one under fire, Judi Dench‘s M is both perfectly fragile and strong.
Skyfall is a very meaningful film, in more ways than one, and I believe anyone who sees it will immediately understand that reasoning. It should be noted that this Sam Mendes directed Bond film does not directly follow from the previous two. The villainous threads that bind Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace have been correctly abandoned in favor of this standalone story. Whether or not the events here will fold into a larger universe that can contain all three is something that they’re still trying to figure out. That said, the popular sentiment is that this particular film is a reinvention of Bond. I think that’s a fitting remark. You’d do well to find out why.