See what I did there? But no, my above one word review of Skyfall is not a joke. Well, maybe a little bit. Bond 23 is easily the most dramatic Bond film of the franchise. It finishes an origin trilogy of Bond, M, MI6, Q branch and many other elements of Ian Fleming’s universe. Yes, a nutshell synopsis of Skyfall has fairly been labeled, “What If Bond, Not Batman, Had To Stop The Joker?” I personally think that concept is an interesting one. The events of The Dark Knight and Skyfall are similar. However, the two heroes in it are not. Bruce Wayne is not James Bond. Bruce is a bit of a softer character than Bond. That doesn’t make Bruce weak by any means. That just shows you how hardened Bond actually is. Where Bruce’s childhood trauma made him somewhat bipolar, Bond’s made him somewhat sociopathic. He is way closer to the line than Bruce. So much so, that his constant defiance is the only thing that keeps him from crossing it. That dynamic is what differentiates the two films.
It is a pleasure to see such an accomplished director like Sam Mendes and a living legend cinematographer like Roger Deakins take on James Bond. This is a franchise that thrives on creativity and style. Something that is totally brought to the table here. Both men show off how excellent action scenes and films can be when they are put in capable hands. Deakins displays such a mastery of composition, color, and shadows, you’ll want to gorge yourself on each well painted frame. That is a little too technical for a film review, so let me just say your eyes experience is all the better for having this duo at the helm.
I sort of guessed beforehand as to the ultimate role of Naomie Harris in Skyfall. However, she still makes her part feel surprising and memorable. Her chemistry with Craig is great and provides some of the lighter moments of the film. The other buxom Bond girl, Sévérine, does not make that great an impact unfortunately. Her story, though interesting, is rushed. This was assuredly done to make room for the biggest Bond girl narrative of Skyfall. That is the M, played by Dame Judi Dench. I may just be showing my bias toward the franchise here, but I wish people could recognize the absolutely perfect performances Dench has been delivering as M since Goldeneye for crying out loud. This is the heaviest lifting she’s had since her arrival and she does not disappoint. I would bet green money there was a hesitation at first to focus a large part of the film around M. A hesitation quickly followed by the chuckling realization that M wasn’t being played by some minor character actor, but Dame Judi f*#king Dench! Casting a women as M was unheard of back when Goldeneye came out. Now her presence is as comforting as a warm blanket.
This brings me to the Joker of this picture, Raoul Silva. Javier Bardem needs to do another comedy immediately. If he continues to convincingly play these raving psychotics, he’ll be typecast forever. Silva is easily the best villain Craig’s Bond has faced and possibly one of the creepiest Bond has ever faced. His path, his plan, his will is frighteningly focused. Bardem’s choice to make Silva always appear friendly on the outside while hinting at the extensive damage underneath is terrific. Unpredictability is the ultimate foil for any hero.
Some critics have also been wary of the new Q, played by Ben Whishaw. Mainly, because he is younger than Bond. However, I think it represents the new generational dichotomy of modern technology. In the 60s and 70s technology was stereotypically run by the old and lost on the young. Nowadays it is the complete opposite. Don’t believe me? Ask your parents to input their name and number into your smart phone. As long as Bond has zero respect for the effort Q puts into his work, the age swap doesn’t matter. And besides, Whishaw is great in the role. His lecturing of Bond feels just as natural as when Desmond Llewelyn did it.
Skyfall will critically be a victim of its own hype. It will be harshly judged because of its 300 commercials a day, its 10 beer related contests, and bold claim to be the best Bond ever. Resentment towards hype should not influence what you see in Skyfall. It is action packed, surprisingly moving, franchise faithful, and most of all, fun. Renew your license to kill…sing along with Adele the song that is a lock for a Best Original Song Oscar nod…take the bloody shot….watch it….then tell me I’m wrong.