James Bond has returned after four years since Quantum of Solace, with director Sam Mendes helming the project. Many fans and critics were very hopeful for the success of Skyfall, expecting much improvement from Quantum by bringing back what was great in Casino Royale: the sensitive and vulnerable Bond. With his acclaimed filmography, Sam Mendes had a lot to bring to the 007 series. Add in famed cinematographer Roger Deakins, and Skyfall was on track to becoming a unique and promising James Bond film. Although considering it to being the best Bond yet may be too soon to call (at least, for me), Skyfall lives up to the hype, and is one of the best films of the year.
On a mission to prevent the identities of MI6 agents from being leaked onto the Internet, James Bond (Daniel Craig) finds himself playing dead when he is accidentally shot by his accomplice, Eve (Naomie Harris). In the midst of his disappearance, the British government requests that M (Judi Dench) go into retirement after losing the list of identities. She ignores their suggestion, but on her way back to work, MI6’s headquarter is destroyed by the cyberterrorist with the list. To hunt down who is up to this, Bond returns from the grave to save MI6 and M. Though to his surprise, this cyberterrorist is Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a man with a very personal connection to MI6 and M. As Bond tries to protect MI6 from further harm by Silva, he learns more and more of M’s past, while reencountering his own past as well.
What fascinates me so much about Skyfall is that this is not exactly a popcorn action flick, especially for a Bond film. Although we get a splendid opening action sequence and a rather intense finale, this is a strikingly visual and talky movie, but that does not necessarily make it a bad thing. The screenplay, written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade, consistently keeps the goal of being as realistic as possible, but in doing so, it brings out some of the most fleshed-out characters in a Bond movie ever. Skyfall has the best performances out of all the Daniel Craig movies. Craig is great in portraying a very broken Bond trying to rediscover his inner self. A lot is asked out of Judi Dench as M in Skyfall, and she easily delivers on every level. We also have some welcomed supporting roles from Ralph Fiennes as Intelligence and Security Committee chairman Gareth Mallory, and the young Ben Whishaw as Q. Though the obvious show-stealer here is Javier Bardem as the scheming and gaudy Raoul Silva. Fingers crossed for a supporting actor nomination.
The only major issue I had with Skyfall was the pacing. Being long and dialogue-heavy should not hurt the film, but the movie takes so much time setting up Bond’s return that we start to lose focus on what is at stake. As a result, it feels as if Silva is formally introduced into the movie a tad too late, although it is only because of the overly drawn out first act. The pacing had a large impact on how I felt about the movie. Though as I reflected on it through the few couple days after seeing it, Skyfall has instantly started to grow on me. Because of its sharp dialogue and epic storytelling of emotional proportions, the movie is forgiven. If there is a Bond film for the Oscar crowd, it is definitely Skyfall. Again, I do not want to rush into specifically ranking this film, but rest assured, it’s absolutely worth your time. It’s clearly one of the best Bonds.
Final Rating: 9/10.