Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Running Time: 143 minutes
We’ve come a long way from the days of craignotbond.com and Daniel Craig’s appointment as Ian Fleming’s 007 for Casino Royale (2006). Now three films into his stint as Bond, Craig seems to have the Bond fans split into two very separate groups - those who like Craig’s portrayal of Bond and those who despise it, longing for the ‘old days’ of Connery, Moore or even Brosnan. Sam Mendes’ Skyfall is likely to polarise these groups even further.
The film follows an attack on MI6, which leads Bond (Craig) on a trail of destruction in order to protect both M (Dench) and the city of London from the sinister plans of the elusive Silva (Bardem). With the help of a new, much younger Q (Whishaw) and under the watchful eye of government official Mallory (Fiennes) Bond delves into his own past as well as M’s, in an attempt to bring order back to MI6.
The key question here is ‘Has Mendes given us the perfect Bond film?’ The answer is simple: no, he hasn’t. However, it’s not for a lack of trying - he went big, bold and wasn’t afraid to shake up the franchise in an attempt to deliver a more modern take on Bond. It is certainly the most visually stunning Bond ever with brilliant use of colour and shadows from cinematographer Roger Deakins. The credit sequence, accompanied by Adele’s brilliant song, is both visually rich and mesmerising. The acting is also some of the best that has featured in Bond films with Craig excellent as a battered and weary Bond, and Dench is solid again in her seventh and most prolific role as M. Bardem steals the show with his flamboyant and sinister Silva, who harks back to the days of the camp super-villains from the sixties Bond films. The supporting cast of Harris and Fiennes are also well developed, along with Whishaw a standout as the new quartermaster.
Mendes and his writers drag the Bond franchise kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and it’s not a bad thing. Fans of the older Bond films may miss the gadgets and some of the older elements, but it would be hard not to appreciate the attempt to keep Bond relevant in an increasingly modern world. There are still nods to the past Bond films that fans can appreciate and there are still witty retorts between Bond, his colleagues and his enemies. The cinematic world has just been updated to reflect the world that we currently live in.
Perhaps the main problem with the film is the issue with the timeline of the film in comparison to the other ‘rebooted’ entries in the series. Whilst both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace took place before all previous Bond films, Skyfall appears to have jumped to an experienced, post-Die Another Day Bond, making some of the references to older missions a bit mixed up and out of place.
007 and the new Q meet for the first time.
So, perhaps once craignotbond.com is long forgotten and Craig has passed the position of Britain’s greatest agent onto another, he will be remembered fondly as providing an era of Bond films that were bold, refreshing and unforgiving, and most importantly different from the preceding Bond films.
The Final Word
Mendes delivers a Bond film that is cool, modern and fun - without being overly camp, silly or dull. It is an excellent way to celebrate the 50th Year of Bond, showing that new Bond films can respect tradition but also be relevant in the future. Here’s to the next 50 years.