Bond is Back

Bond is Back


“The name’s Bond, James Bond.”

These are the famous words uttered by six different actors in 23 films over the course of 50 years. Now we have the 23rd installment of the legendary franchise Skyfall, which is a great Bond name.  Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) Skyfall’s plot revolves around Bond (Daniel Craig) and M (Judi Dench) and their relationship after a failed mission in the pre-credits.

Bond is in hiding and isolation for stretches of time during the beginning of the film, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and pills to deal with his pain (physical and emotional.) Meanwhile M is dealing with the film’s main villain Silva played with the utmost skill and creepiness by Javier Bardem. Silva has a plan that will shake the M and the very foundations of MI6. Bond also learns of a hidden past between M and Silva.

The plot and story in Skyfall is amazing and one of the best stories in Bond franchise history. It takes place all across the globe to different places and cultures, like any good Bond film. The story is intricate in execution and has twist and turns, but it isn’t overly complicated plot and is quite simple in design.

This plot is far more personal to Bond and M, as Silva has a past with MI6. This is becoming a common theme in the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. Bond is not just a cool character who we follow on his amazing adventures. We learn about his past and we grow to understand who he is inside while he is traveling the world fighting bad guys. I hope this continues as it lends more weight to our hero and what he does for a living, a living he doesn’t always enjoy.

Speaking of characters, this film has a great cast of actors. Daniel Craig dons the tux for his third film, and he is better than ever (a feat when you consider that his last appearance as Bond was in 2008’s Quantum of Solace.) Mr. Craig has a great blend of charm, toughness, smarts, and an emotional and complex core. Sean Connery may still be the best 007 but Daniel Craig is a close second and when he is done with his contract and final two Bond films, he might be the best.

Judi Dench returns as M chief of MI6. She is also great, and I love how they use her in the story, making her the main focus of the plot and highlighting her relationship with Bond. One could say M is the Bond girl of the film.

M isn’t the only Bond girl though; we have Eva played by Naomie Harris, she is a field agent who assists Bond in parts of the film. She is good if sparingly used; she does play a big part in the pre credit scene however and has good chemistry with Bond.

Javier Bardem is the villain Silva. Silva is by far the best villain of the Craig Bond films and is a huge improvement over the cardboard villains of the last two films.  It also isn’t a stretch to say he is one of the best villains in Bond history. One thing that I noticed is that Silva has some similarities to Heath Ledgers Joker in The Dark Knight. Javier does put his own touches to the role though.

Q (Ben Winshaw) is finally introduced back after being absent the last two films. Winshaw is younger than the image of Q we have as some old, grumpy man who is annoyed by Bond’s lack of respect for his wonderful gadgets. Winshaw is brilliant as a hipster techy who quips “what did you expect, an exploding pen? We don’t do those anymore” and it’s too bad he is used only in a small portion in the film. I look forward to future installments with this Q.

In this film we also have Ralph Finnes, Albert Finney, and Berenice Marlohe. All these actors and actresses do a great job playing interesting, well-written characters. The characters are integral to this film’s success as the conversations, development and characterization is masterful.

This being a Bond film the action is a big part as well and there is more than enough to hold fans over. First off, the cinematography is amazing, making this the best looking and shot Bond ever and the best of the year. This makes the action scenes all the impressive. The action is expertly choreographed and paced; the set pieces are epic in scope and always leave you at the edge of your seat. This is strength of Skyfall; the tension created here is amazing making the action more than just a bunch of great stunts and punches. It’s evident that this film is very good, but there are some small issues.

The CGI looked a little cheap at times, distractingly evident that some stunts were effects.

Another small issue is some of the Bond one liners. It’s not the delivery by Daniel Craig or how it’s written, it’s where they’re placed. At points jokes are made were they don’t fit or kill the darker mood.

Is Skyfall the best Bond? No, but it’s easily top ten.  Yet, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that after a four year wait, Skyfall is exactly what this franchise needed, a great film that is well made and has all the elements of a great Bond film. Bond, like the franchise, has to train and work his way back to the top to prove Bond is still relevant.  Like 007, Skyfall proves that Bond is back.