7.5 out of 10
Release Date: 26th October 2012
Director: Sam Mendes (James Bond – Spectre / Away We Go / Reservation Road / Jarhead / The Road To Perdition / American Beauty)
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Berenice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory, Ola Rapace with Albert Finney and Judi Dench
Writer: Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
In Iron Man 3, Tony Starks says in a TV interview something like “No politics, no business, just good old fashioned revenge!” It’s refreshing that this installment of James Bond has dispensed with villainous business men and renegade dictators and politicians. Skyfall‘s baddie is all about getting even. He also has massive disfigurement, a funny wig and he could also be the first openly homosexual adversary of the series. Javier Bardem (TO THE WONDER) is also one of the greatest living actors on Earth at the moment, so seeing him master such a stark cipher in Silva and shade him with such bile and poise is a real cinematic treat. In short, he is an old school Bond baddy with a dash of ‘gay’. I’m pleased to see that Daniel Craig (DREAM HOUSE) has at last grown into the role of James Bond. Craig always seems at home playing laid back and taciturn characters (contents under pressure) and now we’ve seen him play ‘neo-Bond’ twice so far, he’s allowed to get down to doing what he does best. Utterly convince as a cold hearted, guarded government assassin.
I’ve heard friends say that this is least ‘Bond’ Bond film they’ve seen, also saying that it’s a good action film but that something is missing. I’d have angled these observations at the Quantum Of Solace but not at Skyfall, afterall what do we need from a ‘Bond’ film? Gadgets, tick! / Aston Martin, tick! / Sexy women, tick! / Flanboyant villain, tick! / Exotic locations….err not as many as we’re used to. And maybe that’s where Skyfall falls down. And it’s a small but relevant point. Never has a Bond film spent as much time in the UK before. And because of this, the overall scale seems smaller. In bringing Judi Dench’s (RUN FOR YOUR WIFE) M off the back bench by promoting her to a leading role makes the movie seem to place it in the quieter regions of the canon. However, this gives the makers of Skyfall the opportunity to exercise their best script yet . It’s not only the one liners that resonate, it’s whole exchanges. A scene where Bond is assessed in a word assocation test is a remarkably economic peek behind the shark eyes and that ghost of a smile. All the best bits of dialogue are in the trailer but it’s still good to see Bond getting a share as well as the villain.
The action also delivers, although the showdown in Scotland is fairly generic but well executed. Earlier set pieces are more creative, the underground train carriage crash is brilliantly realised but why is it empty at rush hour (I wanted human carnage!)>? The court room shoot out was nail biting too and I loved the way Silva looks visibly scared and confused when Bond gets a fleeting upper hand. Director Sam Mendes establishes the man behind the James Bond myth in Skyfall. Action hounds will identify with Ralph Fiennes’ (THE ENGLISH PATIENT) Mallory says “there’s no shame in admitting you’ve missed a step”. Skyfall is definitely a quieter bond, but sometimes a series needs to dial down the spectacle to re-establish the characters. It’s important for us to identify with Bond. He’s a fictional creation but also a kind of National Treasure. Skyfall ensures we aren’t left with a ghoulish and empty headed assassin. We only get hints but at least this episode shows that still waters really do run deep.
7.5 out of 10 – Skyfall benefits greatly from the presence of a ‘back-to-basics’ old fashioned villain with a grudge played by a truly great acting god; Javier Bardem. I also took pleasure in the quieter moments that took time to reveal a bit of Bond’s history. The next Bond film ought to be twice as action packed though to put the series back on top. James Bond was never popular because he liked to sit and talk about the past. I do give thanks for this more ‘thoughtful’ take on Bond, but now it’s made let’s get back to the hi-jinks. This is my favourite Bond films since Octopussy though (and I saw that as a kid!)
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Daniel Craig: James Bond – Spectre, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (US), Tintin (voice), Dream House, Cowboys & Aliens, Defiance, James Bond – Quantum Of Solace, Flashbacks Of a Fool, The Golden Compass, The Invasion, James Bond – Casino Royale, Infamous, The Jacket, Munich, Layer Cake, Enduring Love, Sylvia, The Mother, The Road To Perdition, Tomb Raider, Hotel Splendide, Some Voices, The Trench, Elizabeth I, Love Is The Devil
- Javier Bardem: Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Automata (voice), The Gunman, The Counsellor, To The Wonder, Eat Pray Love, Biutiful, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, No Country For Old Men, The Sea Inside, Collateral, Mondays In The Sun, The Dancer Upstairs, Before Night Falls, Live Flesh, Jamon Jamon
- Naomie Harris: Jungle Book – Origins (voice), Our Kind of Traitor, James Bond – Spectre, Southpaw, Mandela, The First Grader, Sex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll, Morris – A Life With Bells, Pirates of The Caribbean 2 & 3, A Cock & Bull Story, Street Kings, Miami Vice Movie, After The Sunset, 28 Days Later, Trauma
- Ralph Fiennes: Flying Horse, A Bigger Splash, Hail Caesar, James Bond – Spectre, The Invisible Woman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Great Expectations (2012), Wrath Of The Titans, Coriolanus, Harry Potter> parts 3-8, Clash of The Titans (2010), Cemetery Junction, Nanny McPhee 2, The Reader, The Hurt Locker, The Duchess, In Bruges, The Constant Gardener, Chromophobia, Maid In Manhattan, Red Dragon, Spider, The End Of The Affair, Onegin, The Avengers (1998), Oscar & Lucinda, The English Patient, Strange Days, Quiz Show, Schindler’s List, The Baby Of Macon, Wuthering Heights (1992)
- Ben Whishaw: In The Heart of the Sea, The Dutch Girl, The Lobster, James Bond – Spectre, Suffragette, Paddington (voice), Lilting, The Cloud Atlas, The Tempest (2010), Brideshead Revisited (2008), Bright Star, I’m Not There, Perfume. Stoned
- Helen McCrory: Loving Vincent (voice), Bill, A Little Chaos, Penny Dreadful (TV), Peaky Blinders (TV), The Woman In Black 2, Flying Blind, Hugo, We’ll Take Manhattan, Harry Potter – parts 6,7 & 8, 4-3-2-1, The Fantastic Mr Fox (voice), Flashbacks Of a Fool, Becoming Jane, The Queen, Enduring Love, Charlotte Gray, The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002), Dad Savage, The James Gang,
- Ola Rapace: Wallander (Swe), Together
- Rory Kinnear: Trespass Against Us, James Bond – Spectre, Penny Dreadful (TV), The Casual Vacancy (TV), Man Up, The Imitation Game, Cuban Fury, Penny Dreadful (TV), Broken (2013), Wild Target (2010), James Bond – Quantum Of Solace
- Albert Finney: The Bourne Legacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, A Good Year, Corpse Bride (voice), Big Fish, My Uncle Silas (TV), Traffic, Erin Brokovich, Simpatico, Breakfast Of Champions, Washington Square, Karaoke (TV), Cold Lazarus (TV), A Man Of No Importance, The Browning Version (1994), Rich In Love, The Playboys, Miller’s Crossing, Annie, Wolfen, The Duellists, Murder On The Orient Express, Gumshoe, Scrooge, Tom Jones, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
- Judi Dench: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Tulip Fever, James Bond – Spectre, Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Philomena, Run For Your Wife, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, J. Edgar, My Week With Marilyn, Pirates Of The Caribbean 4, Jane Eyre (2011), Nine, Notes On A Scandal, James Bond – Golden Eye, James Bond – Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond – The World Is Not Enough, James Bond – Die Another Day, James Bond – Casino Royale, James Bond – Quantum Of Solace, Mrs Henderson Presents, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Ladies In Lavender, The Chronicles Of Riddick, The Importance Of Being Earnest, The Shipping News, Iris, Chocolat, Tea With Mussolini, Shakespeare In Love, Hamlet (1995), Mrs Brown, Jack & Sarah, Henry V (1989), A Handful Of Dust, 84 Charing Cross Road, A Room With a View,