Espionage and secret agents have always interested me. Unlike boring ol’ me, secret agents get to travel the world, play with high tech gadgets and kick butt. Over the years, I’ve seen countless spy thrillers, but I have never watched any of the old James Bond movies, not even the ones starring Sean Connery. My first bond film wasn’t until 2006’s “Casino Royale.” I soon became obsessed with Daniel Craig and learning how to play poker. Two years later, I went to go see the next installment, “Quantum of Solace,” which was terrible. Because of how underwhelming “Quantum of Solace” was, I paid little attention to the upcoming Bond film,“Skyfall.” I didn’t even know that Sam Mendes, director of “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road”, was directing this next film. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed “Skyfall” far more than “Quantum of Solace” and even “Casino Royale.”
In “Skyfall,” James Bond (Daniel Craig) is living abroad after a failed mission. Back in London, M (Judi Dench) faces forced retirement from her position as the head of MI6. After meeting with a head diplomat named Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), M receives a cyber threat from an untraceable source. Upon learning that M may be in danger, Bond returns to London to re-enlist in MI6 and capture the cyber terrorist.
What I liked best about this movie was that it explored the themes of aging and redemption. How does one’s past affect their present? M’s not the only character facing oblivion. Bond returns to London as a lesser agent. He no longer possesses perfect aim or unparalleled strength and agility. His mental state is also in question. However, his affection for M hardly waivers, and it’s her unrelenting confidence in him that resurrects him. In the previous movies, their relationship remained professional for the most part. This film, however, emphasizes (and sometimes exploits) the mother-son bond that they have formed over time.
Unlike the other recent Bond movies, “Skyfall” has a memorable villain. Silva (Javier Bardem) is just as charismatic as he is menacing. While the badly dyed blonde hair and eyebrows are off-putting at first, you don’t take note of it by the film’s climax. This is because Bardem does a great job of humanizing Silva. His malice is not caused by greed or a desire for power. I would argue his actions aren’t even rooted in vengeance. Rather his actions stem from his search for closure, something I think a lot of us can relate to. This doesn’t mean that Silva doesn’t pose a true threat to Bond. If anything I’d say it makes him more frightening because he is emotionally unhinged and thus incredibly unpredictable.
Sam Mendes’ skills as a director reinvigorated the franchise. The exotic locations give the film grandeur, while other locations, such as London and Scotland, reiterate the film’s focus on the past and present. In addition to stunning locations, there are a handful of fast-paced, outlandish action sequences, all of which I had a lot of fun watching.
My only criticism for the film is that it’s a tad too long. There were a number of scenes that could have benefited from being edited down during post-production. Regardless, “Skyfall” has restored my faith in Daniel Craig and the James Bond movies. I may even spend a Saturday watching the Sean Connery Bond movies.
Catch Preview This! Mike’s review.