a review by Kenneth Vazquez
Under the wise and brilliant direction of Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road To Perdition, Revolutionary Road) and the solid screenplay by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade, 'SKYFALL' more than makes up for the unholy mess that it was 'Quantum of Solace' and stands tall among the most successful installments. This film is definitely a return to the fun and adventure of the older entries without the camp. Character development and the intrigue of the series remains paramount and a staple but an obvious shift towards more action and excitement take the forefront from the very opening of the film.
James Bond's loyalty to M is tested when an enemy with a personal vendetta targets MI6 and aspects of Bond's professional life and past comes to bear. If there's two things that I look forward to in a Bond film as much as the story itself is the intro sequence and theme song. Acclaimed UK female vocalist Adele brings her signature blues and opera like sound to the film's song "Skyfall" in what could easily be considered one of the best tracks in the franchise and the second most memorable and powerful since Chris Cornell's theme for 'Casino Royal'. The imagery for the intro sequence is, as always, a visual feast. Exotic femme fatales, handguns, Chinese dragons and Bond in peril are some of the treats seen in the vignette.
The last two films felt somewhat heavy on drama and suspense while light on elaborate action however 'SKYFALL' delivers a balanced combination of everything and the set pieces will stay with the viewer long after they're over. I don't want to get too deep into the action sequences for I don't wish to spoil anything or ruin the surprise. I'll just say that the trademark chase scenes of the series are big, fast and thrilling to this date. From The Grand Bazzar in Turkey, the sophisticated skyline of Shanghai, colorful and far off shores of Macau and the majestic opulence of London, England, this Bond's worldwide stops are never dull.
Some fans of these films are still having a hard time accepting Daniel Craig as James Bond. To most Craig seems to be more about brawn and blowing stuff up than intellect and smooth resourcefulness. I remain a big fan of Roger Moore's and Pierce Brosnan's take on 007, with much respect for Sir Sean Connery, but I feel that Daniel Craig embodies all of the best traits of Bond specially on 'SKYFALL'. Craig has, in more than one occasion, given the role a great deal of pathos, diversity and charm.
Dame Judy Dench brings class, elegance, authority, dignity and a dash of motherly affection to her portrayal of M in a performance with more presence than before. Ralph Fiennes (Shindler's List, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows) is his usual intimidating and gracious self as British Intelligence officer Gareth Mallory. Ben Wishaw (Cloud Atlas) plays the tech savvy and witty Quatermaster and his first on screen meeting with Bond is awesome. A 007 film just isn't complete without a few "Bond Girls" and this one has two gorgeous ones. They may not be as legendary as past ones but these two are tough and striking. Naomie Harris (28 Weeks Later, Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) plays beautiful MI6 operative Eve (who gets quite the recognizable promotion) and French actress Berenice Marlohe plays the gorgeous and intriguing Severine.
As far as villains are concerned Spaniard actor Javier Bardem (Before Night Falls, Goya's Ghost, No Country For Old Men) plays the best in years. His performance as androgenous looking and extremely dangerous Silva is nothing short of fabulous and superbly amusing. Definitely my favorite Bond villain along the likes of Alex Travelyan (Goldeneye), Renard (The World Is Not Enough), Dr Julius No (Dr No), Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger), Emilio Largo (Thunderball), Mr Big (Live and Let Die), Ernst Stavro Blofeld (The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, You Only Live Twice) and Francisco Scaramanga (The Man With The Golden Gun).
As stated before, 'SKYFALL' takes the franchise back to it's action and matinee like days and tips it's hat to the movies of old with nods and throwback moments. The only fault I found in this film is easily overlooked by the girth of it all and that's the lack of the notorious James Bond walking and shooting the barrel sequence usually placed at the opening. Not to worry for such an image is in there. With a gratifying conclusion and the proposition of another mission in the horizon there's no doubt that James Bond will return again.