The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Latest film pushes the envelope of the character and genre
By , Features Editor
Published: November 14 2012
After four years, Bond is back in Skyfall, the 23rd installment and perhaps one of the strongest films of the 50-year-old franchise.
It stars Daniel Craig in his third time portraying James Bond, Judi Dench as M for the seventh time and Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) as the colorful and comedic villain, Raoul Silva.
Despite being the third installment with Craig as Bond, Skyfall’s story is very stand-alone compared to Quantum of Solace (2008), which picked up the story immediately where Casino Royale (2006) left it.
From car chases to gadgets, Skyfall has everything a Bond fan could hope for, all while delivering a compelling story reinforced by strong performances. The film tips its hat to the relationship between Bond and M as they both work to find the culprit behind an attack on MI6.
Skyfall also brings in some nostalgia. “Sometimes the old ways are the best” is the line that echoes as missed characters and gadgets return. The movie also takes a closer glimpse into Bond’s childhood.
It was not just a personal film for the character, (well, as personal as Bond gets) but also for director Sam Mendes.
“It’s as personal as anything I’ve ever done before,” Mendes said in a recent conference call. “I was happy I was able to make a movie personal enough and not get lost in trying to make everyone else’s film,” Mendes said.
Mendes strived to make a movie that would take not only the Bond character in a new direction but the franchise as well.
“It’s a combination of the classic old and the new … we’re pushing the genre in a different direction,” Mendes said.
According to Mendes, he not only made the movie assuming the audience didn’t know Bond at all, but also sought to tell a story that would still be interesting if it weren’t a James Bond picture.
Composing the score was Thomas Newman, making him the ninth composer to work on the franchise. Newman has collaborated four previous times with Mendes-- most notably on American Beauty, a score that is just as memorable as the actors’ performances.
What Newman ended up with was a very dynamic score, featuring not only the original James Bond theme, but also ethnically driven tracks as well as a few electronic-influenced cues.
Adele co-composed and performed the title song “Skyfall,” which was set to a traditional Bond opening sequence. The dark, kaleidoscopic graphics foreshadow the film’s climactic scene in an ice-cold Scottish valley.
A hallmark of the franchise is the arch villain, usually a goofy-looking scorned genius. Bardem’s portrayal of Silva does justice to the tradition, giving the film’s strongest acting performance. Silva, a former MI6 agent, is bent on revenge against M, and the audience witnesses his elaborate plan to kill her unfold - seamlessly, if it weren’t for Bond.
The film’s writers wisely waited until mid-movie to introduce him, shrouding him in mystery and giving extra weight to his long monologue to a tied-up Bond. His charisma is apparent from the first time we see him, and his bad haircut and crème-colored blazer certainly don’t hurt.
Skyfall also re-introduces Q to the series, this time as a mop-haired 20-something computer wiz. Missing from the first two Craig films, he provides an important counterweight to the leading man’s very physical Bond.
Skyfall is a fresh, exciting take on classic Bond components.
It currently holds a rating of 91 percent on Rottentomatoes.com, making it the fifth-highest rated movie of the franchise, just behind Sean Connery’s first three performances and the 2006 reboot Casino Royale.
Another Bond movie is already in the works, according to Empire Magazine. According to the Guardian, Mendes, knackered from the experience, said he would consider directing another Bond film pending the success of Skyfall.
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