Let me add my voice to those quite happy with the 50th Anniversary James Bond film, SKYFALL. Director Sam Mendes admirably helms Daniel Craig’s third time at bat, as the iconic James Bond.
Mendes, who is not known as an Action Director, but rather a maker of intimate and off kilter little films (such as AMERICAN BEAUTY and AWAY WE GO) rises to the occasion here with a film filled with tension and at times literally jaw dropping action set pieces.
From cars to trains to helicopters to subways, Daniel Craig’s Bond gets everything thrown at him, sometimes literally. However the film is more than blowing things up, it’s a tighter script and a more coherent and identifiable motivation for Bond’s nemesis this time out than is usually the case in Bond’s menagerie of outlandish villains.
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Played compellingly and hauntingly by Javier Bardem, Bond’s nemesis this time out seeks not Sattellite transmission rights, or orbital based weapons, nor voodoo mastery of the world… he seeks vengeance. And not long into the film, you’re not sure he doesn’t deserve it. Which is why I hesitate to call Javier Bardem’s Silva a villain. He is a dark mirror of a Bond who has given too much and too often to his country, and been left out in the cold one time too often and too deeply.
I found myself while not condoning Silva’s actions, understanding of the motivations that drive them. And distinctly aware of Silva as a cautionary tale to Bond; ‘there but for the grace of God’ as the saying goes.
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And the complexity of character extends throughout the cast, from Daniel Craig’s always impressive turn as Bond, to Judi Dench celebrating her 17th year playing M (4 films with Pierce Brosnan and 3 films with Daniel Craig)by having one of her best written and most significant roles as the character; to impressive moments by Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw as Q.
While not a perfect film, the film manages to feel long in the tooth at times, but even in those moments it is never less than beautiful to look at. Filled with nods to the half century of Bond’s filmic history, unevenness and all, Mendes manages to merge winter blockbuster with intimate drama, to create a film that is ultimately memorable and re-watchable.
Is it the best Bond film? No. It doesn’t even sport a particularly memorable or imaginative title sequence, but it is a very good Bond film, arguably in the top ten, and is a film, I think people can revisit often and well.
Grade: B+. Strongly Recommended to see in theaters, and a must own on DVD or Bluray.