Bond is back. After a tumultuous four-year gap following 2008’s sub-par Quantum of Solace, Bond was facing the prospect of becoming obsolete again after such a strong reinvention with Daniel Craig’s debut in Casino Royale.
With a troubled MGM facing an unprecedented challenge in the face of bankruptcy, there was a very real chance that Bond, James Bond could be stuck in development hell for years. It’s fortunate for the series and fortuitous for lovers of film in the end that the delay has allowed the film-makers to craft a film that not only sits at the top of the pantheon of Bond flicks, but is one of the best action films of the decade.
Skyfall is simply sensational. Both a homage and a repositioning of the series in the face of modern storytelling, Bond 23 is a masterclass in tension, emotion and turmoil. Long time fans of the franchise will be in heaven but those that dip their toes into the world of 007 for the first time will be equally pleased with a rarity in modern Hollywood, a blockbuster with a brain.
Skyfall mimics the stonking opening sequence that introduced the world to Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale. Tense, taut and Turkish, Bond pursues a skilled enemy through stunning scenery but ends up on the wrong end of a bullet and falls, seemingly, to his death. But in typical Bond style, and with more lives than a hundred cats, he survives.
The agent escapes with a critical hard drive that contains a list of every undercover operative on MI6’s invisible-ink books. When the list falls into the hands of a maniac that will do anything to destroy everything that the agency stands fall, Bond comes out of retirement to save the only things that really matter to him.
What makes Skyfall such an amazing entry in the Bond canon is a combination of a number of factors all working together to make sure everything on screen makes sense and drives the narrative forward with purpose and direction, something that was all but gone from Quantum.
Sam Mendes’ pacy direction and a cracking script from three veteran action screenwriters breath life into a character that may have seen 50 years, but has never been this exposed before. Referencing countless past Bond classics including deliberate winks to the classics that started it all, Dr. No and Goldfinger, Skyfall illuminates corners of the Bond universe that have never even seen sunlight before.
And with a villain as tortured, motivated and brilliant as Javier Bardem’s Silva, the new Bond hits all the dramatic notes with ease, allowing the film-makers, Craig and his simply brilliant supporting cast to deliver an absorbing film that builds to such a stonking crescendo, it will take a miracle to be able to top it.
Closing like a 50-year circle, the echoes of the Connery Bond experience that linger during the final moments of Skyfall are so perfectly poised, they fell like they flowed from the pen of original creator Ian Fleming, bringing this new Bond to a level that few films of this generation can rival.