Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Skyfall Movie Review

I haven’t seen every James Bond film, nor have I seen any like this. With that said, I’m not sure there’s ever been a James Bond movie like Skyfall. Beginning in 2006 with Casino Royale, Daniel Craig reinvented the James Bond character, giving him a depth of humanity previously unseen. This continued in the 2008 follow-up Quantum of Solace, an underwhelming Bond movie that many hated but I enjoyed. Skyfall is another renaissance for James Bond that allows Craig to reinvent the character once again. Skyfall is gritty, larger in scope, and crafted with intelligence and energy. It’s a far cry from previous Bond entries but it will likely go down as one of the best in the series. It’s expected that a Bond film will be entertaining, but it’s hard to anticipate that it would be something like this.

Skyfall James Bond Istanbul
Photo Credit: Sony

The film’s opening scene hits the ground running as Bond chases a mercenary who has stolen a hard drive with the names of undercover agents placed in terrorist organizations throughout Istanbul. This phenomenal opening chase sequence segues into a pulse-pounding fight atop a moving train. The action is being followed from MI6 headquarters by M (Judi Dench), who makes a harsh judgment call that leads the film into the wonderfully designed opening credits punctuated by Adele’s haunting theme. In the wake of this disaster M is pressured to retire by her new boss Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) and the security of MI6 is compromised when their servers are breached and the offices are blown up. This provokes Bond to go on a search for Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), the cyberterrorist behind the attacks.

RELATED: Bond is Back in New Skyfall Trailer

Skyfall is directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes, who has specialized in directing dramatic films. This proves especially useful when Skyfall treads through the human elements of its characters. It’s a Bond film that’s unafraid to deal with emotions and age; no character here is simply a robot. It’s no surprise that Mendes is able to siphon humanity out of Bond but it is surprising how adept he is at handling the action sequences, one of the areas where Marc Forster failed with Quantum of Solace. Mendes’ talent lends an artistic credibility and visual aesthetic not often seen in the world of Bond. Has any James Bond film ever been more beautifully photographed? I certainly don’t think so. The great Roger Deakins makes Skyfall not just epic to experience, but epic to behold. Scenes shot in Shanghai are particularly cinematic, but Deakins’ camera work also provides great atmosphere in the scenes set in Scotland.

Skyfall Daniel Craig Javier Bardem
Photo Credit: Francois Duhamel

This film pulses with creativity. A fight sequence in silhouette is mesmerizing and even the teasing sex scenes are so well-crafted. Mendes’ background in drama coupled with the absolute ease he brings to the action brings elegance to a film already prickling with energy. The script by John Logan and long-time Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade also throws some creative curveballs, making M a focal point of the overall story and giving us a Bond at his physically weakest. There’s even a bit of background story on James Bond! This has never been expected or even necessary really, but it provides depth that elevates Skyfall far above any previous Bond film. There’s no denying that the Craig films have strayed slightly from tradition and taken Bond in a more Bourne-like direction, but when a film is this satisfying and well put-together I find little room to complain. Bond aficionados will certainly appreciate the Goldfinger reference and the introduction of a very young Q and Miss Moneypenny, which makes Skyfall almost serve as an introduction to Craig’s Bond character.

The archetypal Bond girl is basically absent from the film (M gets much more screen-time), but what it lacks in a Bond girl it makes up for with a Bond villain. Already an Oscar winner for playing Anton Chigurh, the ultimate baddie with unconventional hair, Bardem creates a truly potent Bond villain. With bleach-blonde hair and a penchant for playful sadism Bardem’s Silva is a bit reminiscent of the Joker at times and, like that character, his presence is impossible to shake once he arrives about an hour into the film. Bardem’s approach to the character makes him one of Bond’s most evil and memorable villains. He doesn’t approach Silva as a simple Bond villain and this frees him of any campy spin or quirks. He’s a frightening antagonist and often steals the show.

I’m not partial to overhyping a new entry in a long-running series (especially when I’ve only seen half of said series), but Skyfall is the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films on a cinematic level and could be one of the best Bond films period. After Casino Royale brought energy and humanity to James Bond in such a fresh and invigorating way, I would’ve never foreseen Craig topping it during his tenure. Quantum of Solace only solidified this. But somehow, fifty years after Bond first debuted onscreen, we get a Bond film where everything just falls into place perfectly. While some are weaker than others, you can always expect a Bond film to provide entertainment; it’s much less likely you’d expect a Bond film to be one of the best films of the year. So much creative energy and passion has been poured into Skyfall, it very well could be. It’s remarkable entertainment certainly, but it’s also really quite brilliant.

– Written by Guest Contributor Josh Miller


Check out the official trailer for Skyfall:

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