Skyfall review

 

50 years on from his big screen debut and Bond is back. This time he is fighting for more than just Queen and country. Sam Mendes takes on the directorial reigns for Bond’s 23rd outing, but is it an improvement on the previous movie. In a word; YES.

Skyfall opens, as Bond films often do, with a breathtaking action scene. Bond (Daniel Craig) and Eve (Naomie Harris), a new field agent assigned to Bond, give chase across Istanbul after a thief has stolen a hard drive which contains the identities of undercover anti-terrorism agents. A raging car chase and motorbike hunt lead to Bond and the thief going head-to-head on the roof of a moving train.

With time running out, M (Dame Judy Dench) orders Eve to, “Take the bloody shot”, and so she does. Unfortunately for Bond, she isn’t a marksman, and our hero is left falling to his death as Adele breaks into song for the opening credits.

Bond of course washes up alive and takes some time out, enjoying the luxuries and of course the woman of an unknown exotic looking location. Now a borderline alcoholic, he finally decides to return home, when a terrorist attack in London leaves the MI6 building in ruins.

The man responsible for the attack seems to be targeting the head of MI6; M, in a quest for revenge. M, as ruthless and as hard as she is, has no intention of letting this ghost of MI6’s past get into her head and refuses to go without a fight.

Dame Judy puts in a powerful performance as the cold and uninviting chief of the secret service, helping drag the character to centre stage. We even see a hint of humanity break through her tough exterior as the story unfolds.

On his return, Bond is let in to the new MI6 headquarters, now located in the secret war rooms, where he is introduced to Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), a bureaucrat who believes that Bond is past his best, and makes no secret of this. Following rigorous physical and mental tests Bond is cleared for duty, and after a quick introduction with the youthful Q (Ben Whishaw), 007 sets about getting to the bottom of things.

Bond heads out to Shanghai where he, retrieves the stolen hard drive, meets the beautiful Severine (Berenice Marlohe), and takes out a handful of henchmen with the aid of a Komodo dragon.

Of course, it’s not long before Bond inevitably finds himself bound to a chair as he comes face to face with the man behind the attacks, former agent, and computer hacker genius, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Bardem is fantastic in this role, his deliciously creepy campness is quite unsettling, making him one the most interesting Bond villains that we have seen in some time.

Bond returns to the capital and finds himself fighting for the safety of the one person who knows him better than anyone else, M. This is where the action kicks up a notch as Silva unleashes mayhem upon London, leading Bond to form an unexpected bond with his boss. What follows is an action packed, no holds barred final showdown, which I am not going to ruin for you.

Skyfall, for me, is the best Bond yet. The story is clever, the action is fantastic and the characters were superb. We even get a little look into Bond’s past, which I’m sure will be added into future films. It was also nice to see a familiar face or two show up in this third edition of Daniel Craig’s outing as 007.

Craig himself seems to have found the perfect balance of all the previous incarnations, but with an added pinch of darkness and ruthlessness that brings Bond a considerable step closer to the character that Ian Fleming created some 60 years ago.

Skyfall is a magnificent movie and I honestly can’t think of any better way of celebrating 50 years of Bond.

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