Sean K. Cureton

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

One of the Best Bond Films of all Time

In Movie Reviews: 2012 on November 27, 2012 at 12:11 am

Theatrical Poster

Directed by Sam Mendes
3 ½ out of 4 stars

Skyfall, the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise and the third film in which Daniel Craig plays the infamous MI6 agent, is one of the best Bond films of all time. Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Skyfall takes the James Bond character, previously humanized and brilliantly recreated in the 2006 film Casino Royale, and puts him into a film that draws on the history of the Bond film franchise while allowing for enough modern innovation to the character and universe to keep the film fresh and invigorating. Where Pierce Brosnan drove audiences to apathetic disregard in the 1990’s and almost killed the franchise, Craig is once again in top form, proving that 007 is not dead yet.

Mendes’ film provides a further personal history to Bond’s character that had been largely unexplored in prior screen adaptations of Ian Fleming’s spy series. Building on the origin story set up so brilliantly in director Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale, Skyfall continues to paint a picture of why James Bond is so cold, ruthless, and misogynistic; a picture, furthermore, which lends the Daniel Craig Bond much of its resonance and originality. While Sean Connery is without a doubt the gold standard in terms of thinking about what James Bond looks, acts, and feels like, the Bond character that is portrayed by Daniel Craig in this film garners more sympathy from its audience, as Craig’s Bond is revealed in much greater depth than Connery’s Bond, or for that matter Fleming’s Bond. Watching an emotionally wounded and developmentally complicated Bond is much more interesting than watching a Bond who is cold and calculating for the sake of being cold and calculating, even if both Bonds are equally cool looking from the outside.

Skyfall is also one of the most thrilling and fun Bond films to come out in a long time. Watching Bond chase down the film’s villain through the London subway is reminiscent of Connery chasing Shaw in 1963’s From Russia with Love, and every fight and car chase subtlety refers to the fights and car chases that have come before in the film franchise. Skyfall’s script is tight and moves forward smoothly without a hitch, righting the wrongs done by the last Bond film installment, Quantum of Solace, which was overloaded, confused, and forgettable.

The 23rd Bond film also boasts a Bond villain that might just be the best Bond villain of all time, played with relish by Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men). Portrayed as the precursor to Bond within the ranks of MI6, Bardem’s Silva presents the audience with much of the film’s thematic questions and concerns, largely centering on whether or not Bond is justified in following orders from MI6 and his boss M, played once again by Judi Dench. By the film’s end, one will be forced to consider whether or not Goldfinger’s classic attempt on the life of Bond has been upped in this film by Silva’s deadly homoerotic flirtation with Bond, which pushes the barriers of just how close a villain has ever gotten to Bond before.

Sam Mendes’ new Bond film might be the new standard for the Bond franchise. While drawing on what made Casino Royale so rejuvenating to the Bond character, Skyfall delivers the first installment in the Daniel Craig Bond film series that feels akin to a classic James Bond film. While time alone will tell whether or not Skyfall will ever be truly considered among the ranks of the best Sean Connery Bond films, it can be said without a doubt that Skyfall is one of the best films of the year, and a worthy successor to 2006’s Casino Royale.