Skyfall has achieved exactly what we wanted and expected from a new 21st century Bond film. Sam Mendes and his team successfully bring about the transitions first established in Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale in a way that could sow the seeds for many more years of James Bond films. Skyfall is an outstanding 007 film, directed beautifully and told in a fashion that embraces the series’ history and turns it into a sleek and entertaining film. Daniel Craig makes the case that he is one of the best actors to embody Ian Fleming’s superspy since Sean Connery with his performance, and co-stars Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Ralph Fiennes are all exceptional.
The film opens with a grand chase through Istanbul as Bond (Craig) chases a man who has stolen the hard drive from a computer that contains the code names and aliases of MI6 operatives all over the world. Rocketing across the rooftops of the Grand Bazaar on motorcycles, this chase is a memorable and quite impressive stunt piece. Ending up on the roof of a train car, 007 and the thief end up in a fist fight going more than 50 miles an hour over a bridge at least a hundreds feet above a river. Another MI6 agent, Eve (Naomie Harris), is given orders by M (Judi Dench) to take whatever shot she has, as letting the hard drive get away would be catastrophic, but Eve accidentally hits Bond instead.
Believed to be dead, James Bond keeps away from MI6 for some time until an unknown attacker blows up part of MI6’s headquarters on the River Thames in London. 007 returns to England and is reassessed as to whether he is still ready for fieldwork, as well as introduced to his new Quartermaster (Ben Whishaw). Soon after, James is sent to Shanghai to follow up on the stolen list of agent names. The trail all leads to Raoul Silva (Bardem), a former MI6 agent who is after M on a personal vendetta that dates back to her time as section chief in China. Silva is a wicked and very memorable Bond villain, balancing charm and malice in his deranged antagonistic role.
To conclude, Skyfall is a distinct and enjoyable film, as well as a highly respectable addition to the James Bond franchise. Director Sam Mendes has created one of the most visually engaging films in the series, and Daniel Craig continues to explore the roots behind the complex character of 007. The entire cast is outstanding, with Javier Bardem a very memorable villain and Judi Dench delving deeper into her performance as M. The action is well paced and excellently choreographed, and the music is atmospheric, combining for intense fights and chases. Mendes seems to have a strong understanding of what a great Bond film needs, that it isn’t purely an action blockbuster, that it needs some class and a strong antagonist, and that James Bond is not an entirely one-sided character, but a deeply conflicted hero. Skyfall is one of the best Bond films in more than just recent memory, and it has excited me about the future of this franchise.