First of all, I do love the James Bond series of movies. I know that there’s a lot of cliche stuff in a lot of them. Don’t worry – I am not so die hard that I know all the film titles, or which actor played Bond in each, or which weird villains were in each, or which theme song, etc. I don’t think that Sean Connery is the only real Bond. But forgive me, if I have to watch an action movie with gratuitous violence, I would rather it be one with James Bond.
There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I have always been a bit of an Anglophile. All those days of watching Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery on PBS as a kid I guess. Secondly, the two Bonds that I am most acquainted with have been Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig who are both bits of eye candy, to say the least. Lastly, who doesn’t like a little espionage? Spies, politics, action, casinos, martinis – who could ask for anything more?
Skyfall was excellent as James Bond movies go. Backing up a bit, I have not read the James Bond books, but the word on the street is that the interpretation of Bond that Daniel Craig was enlisted to play is the version that the author intended – thug-ish with little if any human soul left. Of the Daniel Craig series of movies, I really did enjoy Casino Royal. I hated Quantum of Solace (starting with the title). But Skyfall seems to get things back on track. Why? I think the main reason is the really cohesive plot that was easy to follow and which they colored with wonderful details and depth in several of the characters.
The main characters are James Bond (of course played by Daniel Craig), M (Judi Dench), and Silva (Javier Bardem, the villain character). Interestingly, the female foil (Eve, played by Naomie Harris) seems to take on more of a background role than usual. The sex in the film seems more down played than in other movies.
It is hard to talk about the plot without spoiling a bit, so for those who care, proceed with caution. The plot revolves around a vendetta that Silva (a former 00) has against M. Apparently, she had traded him away in a hostage exchange to get back six other agents, after which time he was brutally tortured. Silva has been releasing the names of agents embedded as terrorists to get back at her and needs to be stopped. There is a bit more of the “For love of King and Country” stuff than usual.
In terms of characters, Bond’s emptiness is expanded upon. We get to visit his childhood home and find out a little more of his background. We also learn more about M and the tough decisions she has to make in the line of duty. Finally, we learn about Silva, Bardem’s character. He was my least favorite. The “craziness” seemed a bit overplayed with lots of gratuitous maniacal laughter. I also hate his yellow hair. He is styled out as Ugly Bardem (sort of like the Bardem in No Country for Old Men – as opposed to Handsome Bardem in Eat, Pray, Love).
Some of the cinematography is pretty cool, especially scenes shot in Shanghai, Hashima Island and Scotland. In fact, I would say that the scenery was one of the film’s highlights. Hashima is an actual island off the coast of Japan which is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. It has been the subject of documentaries; it is a totally abandoned coal mining town with large concrete apartment structures in Japanese ghost town fashion. Skyfall was nominated for several cinematography awards, including an Oscar.
There are two additional characters in Q (Ben Whishaw) and Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) which are new that we get to know. Q is a very young computer hacking equipment genius and Mallory appears to be M’s boss, someone fairly high up in the government. They are good additions. Mallory surprises Bond with his prowess at using a gun…
So overall, I think the film is greatly entertaining and a really fun watch. I think I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. Enjoy!