It’s been four years since the elegantly suited James Bond (Daniel Craig) hit our screens in the disappointingly mediocre Quantum of Solace. Thankfully, from the opening sequence it’s easy to see that Skyfall is no Quantum, not by a long, hunting-rifle shot. The plot is centralized around the relationship between the broken, alcoholic and presumed dead 00 agent, and M, who has taken a torturous berating from the Government regarding the theft of a hard drive containing NATO undercover agent details. Their employer/employee relationship that burgeons on friendship and at times a mother/son dynamic holds a fast-moving plot together, maintaining heart at the center of vast action sequences and tense interrogations.
Berenice Marlohe is entrancing as the seductive, but vulnerable Severine and does well in a role that doesn’t provide an awful lot of screen time. Naomi Harris provides a nice contrast as MI6 field agent Eve, whose prominent part comes in the pre-title sequence, although she is a welcome addition to later scenes. A powerful supporting cast includes Ralph Fiennes as Mallory, a politically charged challenger for M and Ben Whishaw as Q, who proves himself more than capable of keeping up with Bond’s wit and technical needs.
The story sees Bond return from his assumed death to help M in her fight to find the mastermind behind a terrorist attack on MI6 HQ in London, which resulted in six deaths and who also hacked their secure computer systems. As the names of undercover agents are released online weekly, resulting in their subsequent assassinations, the chase to catch the terrorist begins. This timeline however, is rendered irrelevant once we meet the Bond villain. Making a dramatic, memorable entrance, Silva (Javier Bardem) represents Bond villainy at its best. Unsettled, disturbed, intelligent, scarred, and incredibly camp, Bardem excels in the role of an ex-agent, who was betrayed by M on a previous mission and has been planning his revenge for years. Complete with a murderous appetite and his own abandoned island as a hideout, Silva is a fantastic match for Bond who must race against time to protect M, and the future of the secret service.
From the frantic rooftop race across a market in Istanbul to the Gothic finale in the misty, lonely Scottish highlands, the film is beautifully shot and gripping throughout. Oscar winning director Sam Mendes creates an interesting blend of modern espionage thriller in the form of cyber warfare and a nostalgic homage to previous Bond films (rifles, knives and a classic Aston Martin) that combine to give the film a timeless, but clean and slick look. Keener Bond fans will also notice lots of subtle (and not-so-subtle) references to the earlier films that litter the screenplay and sets. Made for Bond’s 50th Anniversary, Skyfall encompasses everything we love about Bond: the girls, the cars, the guns, the fights, the villain, the exotic locations, the cliché and of course, the man himself. So whilst we excitedly wait for Bond 24, make mine a martini, shaken, not stirred.
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