Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Skyfall

So, after all the buzz I have been hearing, and all the speculation about its suddenly increased Oscar chances, I finally got to sit down and see the newest Bond flick Skyfall. Now I have been mixed over the history of Bond. Some of them are awesome classics, and some of them are just bad. Well I am happy to say that not only is Skyfall in the "awesome classics" column, but it is possibly the best Bond film ever made, maybe besides Goldfinger.

The first scene is an action packed chase after an operative in Turkey which leads to Bond being shot due to a call by M. Then we see an awesome title sequence featuring Adele's Skyfall, and finally the story really begins. Bond is no longer the slick agent we have come to know. He is popping pills and drinking like a fish, and while he survived, his abilities and confidence as an agent have been shaken. Meanwhile back at headquarters, M is getting a lot of crap from the beaucratic machine, calls for her resignation and the retirement of the secret agent program. This is particularly true after an explosion at MI-6 headquarters, which does bring Bond back, but also questions the integrity and competence of M and her staff. We find out that the villain this time is going at the heart of the matter. Silva was a former agent who was abandoned by M on a mission and is now out seeking revenge. So Bond not only has to stop the villain from continuing to release top secret information that he has stolen by hacking into MI-6's computers, but he must fight to save the one person who has always been there for him, M.

Skyfall is a dizzy and wildy entertaining combination of classic Bond, with its themes, music and kick-ass cars, and a heartfelt character study that finally gives some depth to any otherwise one-dimensional character that had started to run its course after the disappoting Quantum of Solace. This is thanks to the addition of Sam Mendes at the helm. He never tries to compromise what has made the series one of the most successful in movie history, but he also finds ways to bring to the table the style and depth that have made his films uniquely emotional. First, his portrayal of Bond as a broken man, shows that even our heroes can sometimes be shaken. This is not a new theme in films, but it is for Bond movies, so it has the feel of something refreshing. Second, Mendes choice to include an origin story proved to provide emotional depth. We finally see where he came from, and why M has always remained such an important figure to him in the absence of his parents. And although it too bares a striking resemblance to other films (cough...Batman Begins...cough), it may also serve as a launching pad for future Bond stories as we continue to explore how he came to be 007. The final thing that Mendes does, is pay tribute to the classic Bond. While he celebrates the future (look at Ben Whishaw's Q), he also ends up playing it old school, showing that sometimes the old-fashion way of doing things works a lot better than all the new-fangled technology (which has suddenly been hacked).

Mendes vision combines with a screenplay (thanks in part to the addition of John Logan) that does its part, an incredible technical team including some of the best in the buisness that make this film a treat for the eyes and the ears, and a wonderful cast who all step up their game, particularly Javier Bardem as the deliciously evil Silva, and the always fantastic Judi Dench, who finally gets a Bond film that lets her show off her acting prowless, to create what is the best Bond film in years. It is still slick, edgy, and action-packed, but it also manages to flawlessly insert personal history and emotional depth in a way that never takes away from its entertainment value, but actually manages to enhance it. Skyfall will certaintly end up as one of the year's best, and maybe, just maybe, it can see some Oscar glory. I'm sure Best Picture is a pipe dream, but its cinematography, screenplay, sound, and its supporting cast should all be in the mix, as should Mendes, for making Bond something worth watching again.

Grade: A-

Oscar Potential: Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects.

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