Bond Is Back in one of the greatest films of 2012!
Getting a James Bond film right is no easy task. Want evidence? You only need to look at how recent poorly received entries like Die Another Day and the underrated Quantum Of Solace (4/5) to see how things can go wrong in the eyes of fans, and with the latter being the most recent instalment despite having released four years back, expectations were rightly high for Skyfall to pick up the shaken but unstirred gauntlet for a smashing 50th Anniversary. Here's the question we're here for, then- does Daniel Craig's third film as Agent 007 accomplish its task?
The answer is as simple as I might have hoped: Yes, Yes and Yes. Quite frankly, it's hard to see how you can make a Bond film much better than Skyfall, a stunning and innovative piece of cinema that completely plays on fans' expectations and in this viewer's eyes even goes so far as to outright top 2006's best film, the great Craig opener Casino Royale (5/5). It opens with a typical Bond chase sequence, yet immediately you'll see twists on the normal apparent here, especially with the gripping cliffhanger that leads into a beautiful title sequence backed by Adele. More and more as the film progresses through its beefy yet justified 140 minute running time, fans of MGM's saga of adaptations of Ian Fleming's classic franchise will notice how much this flick attempts to and succeeds in deviating massively from the status quo, branching off onto tangents that few would ever have thought even feasible for such a once-predictable series.
Truly, Skyfall's core strength lies in its cast and direction- Craig's Bond at first seems more restrained and obedient than his Casino self, yet the moment the aforementioned title cliffhanger kicks in really does change everything for his character- it commences an emotional journey for the character like never before, culminating in a beautiful ending tinged with both melancholy and nostalgia. The way this film bows out will perhaps divide the masses, but for the most part it's a dignified narrative success, carrying true depth and emotional resonance to an alarming extent. There's a real sense of justice done to this iconic British staplemate here, whereby not only are there nods to the past (both in terms of gadgets and the crux of the plot), but elements of past flicks come and go as if to fully push Bond on and prove that 'old dogs can learn new tricks'. You'll read that quotation a lot in reviews, but rightly so, because it really does go to summarise the mastery with which the storyline has been handled.
Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Wishaw and Javier Bardem all in particular give equally impressive performances too. Better yet, Sam Mendes is by far the perfect director for modern Bond, lending a bizarre sense of Britishness to a flick so steeped in riffs of the American action greats, and by far providing some of the most dazzling and noteworthy shots of the franchise yet while shooting abroad. If we get Mendes back for the rumoured two-film arc that's beginning production next year, we can at least guarantee the following instalments will be treats on the eyes at the very least.
If ever there was any doubt in your mind as there was in mine as to the likeliehood of Skyfall's recovery from Quantum's failures, then lay those fears to rest right now. Skyfall is without question one of the best films on offer for your viewing pleasure this year, a tour de force in what modern James Bond films should represent and how most efficiently to carry out on one's promises. Truly, you'll be hard pressed to name a Bond flick which completely betters this one once you've had the absolute pleasure of watching it, and if you don't indulge that pleasure then you may just find yourself that less shaken come the end of 2012's offerings from the film industry.