starring Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem
directed by Sam Mendes
screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan
based on a character by Sir Ian Fleming
Almost four years after the release of Quantum of Solace,a film met with scathing review for it’s overall mediocrity, Daniel Craig returns once more to portray film icon James Bond in Skyfall. The film opens right away with a typical high adrenaline chase scene, complete with motorbike races through bazaar back alleys, and fisticuffs on the top of a moving train, but it’s the defiance of the cliché Bond formula that makes this movie excel. The screenplay is one of the more clever Bond stories in years, made suspenseful primarily by the unpredictable danger of Bond’s aging, and his erratic foe, the mysterious hacker played by Javier Bardem. Bardem’s character, Silva, is one of the most intriguing Bond villains ever, a man whose wit, sadism, and vengefulness make him a worthy adversary for Craig’s rough and tough Bond. Their equally intense resilience creates an dynamic tension between the two. Bardem nails the performance, notably during his bone-chilling monologue about rats, done with a pulse-raising intensity reminiscent of Nolan’s Joker. Perhaps the aspect of this film that allows it to be so exciting is it’s decision to strip down. Skyfall forgoes fancy gadgets, and childish innuendos in favor of a gritty realism, a Hollywood trend that works rather nicely with Bond, setting him in a very believable London. The expanded attention to MI6 is a great touch, helping the story feel more full and complex. Throw in an epic final showdown, full of explosions and classic Bond ingenuity, and the film fills out excitingly, albeit sometimes victim to action film tropes. Skyfall is a fresh, promising new chapter, breathing life back into the dwindling Bond franchise, and leaving it’s audience eager for the next film.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆