Oh my goodness, you guys. This, the 23rd installment. This, the 50th anniversary edition. This one completes the recent reboot of the James Bond franchise. It’s a good one!
Daniel Craig’s Bond has been one of my favorites. And let’s get this out of the way right now: I think all the Bonds are uniquely good — except Tim Dalton — but some had the fortune of being in better movies than others. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is my favorite of the Bond films. And regardless of what you may think of those opinions, empirically I am a Bond connoisseur. Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes has heard my “I wrote a paper on James Bond in college” story.
Ahem. Getting back to the topic at hand. Daniel Craig, originally a controversial choice, has brought the toughness back to Bond. Not to mention the bad-boy sex appeal. His turn continues in Skyfall, his third as the suavest spy in the universe.
From the main title credits we know we’re in for a treat. Skyfall‘s full of clues about the past — James’ past and M’s as well. He must defend M and the Service from an old enemy. Skyfall‘s also full of references to past films. There are so many references it’s possible to lose count. For a connoisseur like me, there are subtleties in certain quick lines of dialog or camera angles. For the rest of the audience, well…everybody recognizes the classic DB-5 from Goldfinger. It serves as the symbol of the reboot. James gets to use its gadgets one last time, and then we have to say goodbye.
If you like action, you won’t be disappointed, but I was struck by the sheer amount of story that’s packed into this new film. You might think that the parcours segment at the start of Casino Royale is more adrenalin-inducing than the motorcycle chase in Skyfall, but it’s still pretty impressive. If you like high-end, even highbrow actors, there’s no shortage here either. Dame Judi Dench returns as M, and is fabulous as ever. We’re treated to Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) as a downright Blofeld-esque villain, Ralph Fiennes as a scheming bureaucrat (or is he?), and Ben Whishaw (The Hour) as the new Q. If you find yourself scanning for continuity problems, you’ll be disappointed.
In the end, I have two small quibbles with this film. Albert Finney is fabulous — how could he not be — but a ghillie should sound Scottish. And finally, Sam Mendes goes a little over the top — even for a Bond film — with some of the sets and camera work. But it’s just a very little, and all-in-all, it’s beautifully directed. When the audience claps at the end, you know you’ve done well.
Skyfall made almost $90MM in its opening weekend, and it’s easy to see why.
I just can’t wait to see it again.