One of the things that I say repeatedly in my reviews is that my biggest influence growing up watching the films is my father. Not only did he introduce me to Indiana Jones, Josey Wales, Freddy Krueger, and the world of Star Wars, he introduced me to James Bond.
As much as I loved the other characters, I always thought there was something special about my affinity for Bond, perhaps the times in my life in which I was shown the films. It all began when I was four and I was introduced to the character by seeing “The World is Not Enough.” Although in reality, it may not be the best of the Bond films, it will always have the strongest connection to me personally.
As time went by, my dad began to show me the previous films in the series and it did not take long for me to realize that my favorite was “Goldfinger.” In fact, at the age of 7, I loved everything about it. From Shirley Bassey’s soulful theme song to the action sequences and the fascination I had with the character of Auric Goldfinger, everything about it affected me in some way, shape, or form.
Now, 10 years later, I find myself feeling exactly the same way about “Skyfall” that I did that crisp autumn night in Philadelphia when my dad showed me “Goldfinger.”
I’ve been anxiously awaiting “Skyfall” on a conscious level since the day the project was announced. My anticipation only grew when Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, director of “American Beauty” and the only Oscar winner to direct a Bond flick, and Javier Bardem was announced to play the villain. However, I think subconsciously, “Skyfall” is the Bond film every fan of the series has been waiting for since Sean Connery stepped away from the role. Either way, the film lives up to the high expectations I had set for it and it is not only a fantastic action film in general, but a dazzling entry in the 50-year-old franchise.
In the film, Bond, played for the third time by blonde Brit Daniel Craig, must prove his allegiance to M and protect MI:6 when a madman (Bardem) threatens not just the well-being of M, but the entire country of England.
Judi Dench reprises the role of M, and, for the first time in her seven outings, is given a chance to truly shine. The audience gets the impression that M means business and although her methods may be in question and that her and Bond may be considered “dinosaurs” in the field of espionage, they are both unwilling to stop fighting in what they believe in.
Bardem turns Silva into one of, if not the single most believable and terrifying Bond nemeses in the franchise’s five-decade span. Silva is crazy, in fact, I would argue he is Bond’s carnation of The Joker, and he will stop at nothing to see his plan unfold.
Also rounding out the cast are Ralph Fiennes as Garreth Mallory, the head of British Intelligenec as well as Naomie Harris as Eve, one of Bond’s fellow field agents, Berenice Marlohe as femme fatale Severine, and Ben Wishaw as Q.
All of the supporting actors are fantastic, and Wishaw’s version of Q is unlike anything audiences have seen from the series before. He’s insanely smart and likeable and I am very much looking forward to seeing him reprise the role in Bond films down the road.
Mendes’ direction is spot on and he elevates a near perfect script from scribes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan. The three writers understood that following the disastrous “Quantum of Solace” which was marred largely in part to the writer’s strike, that the pressure was on to write the best Bond films ever. Fortunately, the three men succeed and the result is a breathtaking film that perfectly mixes the old James Bond with the new, and provides audiences with a whole new look at the beloved character. The film gives audiences a chance to see under the hood a little bit and helps them understand what makes Bond tick and manages to serve up several poignant moments among the smart action sequences.
Another fantastic element of the film is that of cinematographer Roger Deakins. Deakins, who hs previously worked on such films as “No Country for Old Men” and the recent “True Grit” remake captures shots that are simply too beautiful to describe and singlehandedly manages to turn “Skyfall” into the best looking Bond film ever. Deakins will almost definitely receive an Oscar nod for his work on the film, in fact it would be an absolute abomination of he did not.
Also capable of receiving an Oscar nod is Adele for her sultry, rich theme song. She wrote the song herself along with Paul Epworth, and will almost certainly be nominated for Best Original Song once nominations are announced in January.
Whether or not you have seen Daniel Craig’s two previous outings as James Bond is irrelevant and even those who have not should check out “Skyfall” as it is one of the year’s most fun and enjoyable films. For long time fans of the series, “Skyfall” is certainly the best entry since “Goldfinger”, if not ever and I certainly cannot think of a better possible way to celebrate the franchise’s 50 anniversary of being brought to the screen than “Skyfall”. It manages to remind audiences why the franchise has survived this long as well as why the character is so beloved while at the same time reminding them why the character is not only as cool and as relevant as he was when “Dr. No” was released, but why he will be for another 50 years. 4.75 stars out of 5.