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October 22, 2012
Bond. James Bond. “What do you say about a man like that?” ponders M in this slick, darkly cool film celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bond.
This latest offering of Bond follows the trend set by The Dark Knight (which Sam Mendes recently cited as inspiration) for dark and realistic films with more focus on our lead character. Daniel Craig definitely has his work cut out for him, not just with huge explosive stunts but with actual character engagement and chemistry that we didn’t really get with Quantum of Solace. Craig plays an older Bond than what we’re used to; he’s slower, less agile and even unprepared which is sometimes played on too heavily for the audience, leaving them to believe he is perhaps unable to pull off the stunts performed. However this suits the world around him, which has changed. The expectations are higher and Bond delivers by adapting to this new environment where the villains are individuals and not organisations with goals of world domination, the battles are fought through computers and technology, Q (Ben Whishaw) boasts he can kill more agents at home on his laptop than Bond could ever do in a year. Daniel Craig never loses his cool in this performance, continuing his legacy as the most suave and determined Bond ever. For those who enjoyed the camp era of Roger Moore or even the goofiness of the invisible car in Die another Day, that’s all been pretty much eliminated except for a few casual nods here and there, instead we have some very outstanding moments of what Casino Royale set up so well – Bond is a man with a gun.
This may imply that Skyfall has rid itself of the old style that we are familiar with: girls, gadgets, over-the-top plots and elaborate plans to kill Bond (Shark-infested swimming pool anyone?) but it’s all there and celebrated in the way that it deserves – with dignity, respect and love. Though of course some things remain – our two Bond Girls (three if you count Judi Dench) ooze sex appeal throughout. Naomie Harris leaves her performance a little something to be desired as we never get the feeling she likes or enjoys 007’s company, despite sharing some brilliantly scripted conversations. Bérénice Marlohe as Sévérine is both stunning and seductive; her chemistry with Daniel Craig comes off well.
Opposite Bond is Raoul Silva played by Javier Bardem, who already catapults to the top of greatest Bond villains, if not THE best. Silva charms his way onto screen but is never afraid to get his hands dirty, especially against Bond and he loves every minute of it in his quest against M (Judi Dench). In fact the main focus of this film is less on Bond and more on M, she certainly gets more screen time than Silva and her relationship with Bond is more developed which ultimately forms the greatest strengths of the film. The previous have joked that Judi Dench’s M likes to think of herself as his mother, she certainly has had a longer personal history spanning the six previous films; but here that relationship and their faith in each other is tested to new lengths against Silva who feels like the unwanted child in this strange family of agents. Ralph Fiennes (on good form as usual) certainly acts like the grumpy uncle, constantly dismissing both M and Bond for their old age and naivety against this new threat. Even Q feels like the quirky younger brother eager to help out Bond; if there’s one thing that has always made Bond great it’s the feeling that you are stepping into an established family dating all the way back to Sean Connery. You’ll leave the cinema feeling you’ve met old friends and made new ones.
Skyfall is released in cinemas this Friday 26th October in the UK.