December 2, 2012 11 Comments
For those who are not used to Sam Mendes’ work and its quality, ‘Skyfall’ may appear like another action flick of average quality, just another James Bond film, full of the same tricks recycled once again. But this is Sam Mendes film, which means that this first impression is false. ‘Skyfall’ is a delightful surprise which has the potential to exceed everyone’s expectations. The film is intelligent, stylish, funny and very well acted. It is certainly much better than the previous two films in the James Bond series. In this film, James Bond, who is badly wounded on the mission to Turkey and unfit for service, embarks on yet another mission to stop a former ‘…00’ MI6 agent from completing his evil plan.
Getting straight to the point, the action sequences in ‘Skyfall’ provide for a really enjoyable viewing. There are action scenes on a train and involving an elevator, which are particularly good and well-crafted, and whoever is a fan of Hitman may also find appropriate references here. On the other hand, in these action sequences probably lies one of the weaknesses of the ‘Skyfall’ production – some action scenes have rather odd camera angles (maybe, for want of experiment) and that makes such scenes needlessly chaotic, and somehow more predictable and unrealistic.
On a positive note, what stands out in this film are the elaborate dialogue sequences, the feeling of intimacy of every conversation in the film, a prised quality, which also features in other Sam Mendes’ films, such as ‘American Beauty’ (1999) and ‘Revolutionary Road’ (2008). In ‘Revolutionary Road’, for example, every dialogue sequence seems polished to a near-perfection, and they have so much meaning that the film becomes gripping to watch just on that basis. Same happens here in ‘Skyfall’, and, therefore, the film appears different, more intelligent, and more ‘developed’ then either ‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008) or ‘Casino Royale’ (2006).
The frequent humour in ‘Skyfall’, for example those unforgettable witty one-liners, is also excellently employed. Although as a result of its use, ‘Skyfall’ may feel almost a parody on older James Bond films and very cliché, humour relaxed the audience in a way and makes them to accept the James Bond world without tedious questions or serious repercussions, easing them into the state where they can just enjoy watching what is going on on screen.
Javier Bardem’s character (Raoul Silva), as does Bardem’s acting, impresses immensely. Raoul Silva – a former MI6 agent-gone bad, as a character, is almost a study in his own right, and can even be compared to the Joker in the Batman franchise, so hilariously psychotic and ruthlessly evil he is. What is interesting is that Silva is also not your conventional ‘bad’ guy – he is a man with his weaknesses and ‘wounds’ paraded openly in front of the audience, making him even ‘sympathetic’ at times. Bardem does an excellent job portraying this complex villain, and some even predict him a 2013 Academy Award nomination for it (well, if William Hurt was nominated for his 10 minutes-performance in Cronenberg’s ‘A History of Violence’ (2005), then, surely…)
Daniel Craig plays Bond well, even given his tendency to produce rather wooden performances occasionally and him being rather inarticulate at times. The fact that he works alongside the ever-superb Judi Dench (M) and Ralph Fiennes (Gareth Mallory, the head of the Foreign Intelligence wing) helps. In my opinion, however, Daniel Craig is far too sombre-looking and unengaging for the role of James Bond (besides, he lacks much needed charm, gaiety and appeal), but Sean Connery set a high threshold in his time. Craig supporting ‘girl’ acts – Bérénice Marlohe as Severine and Naomie Harris as Eve are equally good, although Harris is probably the weakest link on the set. Speaking of Bond girls, one may also think that maybe Bond could have developed a more romantic relationship with one of the film heroines, and there could have been a greater emphasis on emotion, but, then again, that would not have resonated well with the main plot.
Moving on to locations, ‘Skyfall’ has the distinction of being only one of few James Bond films where the action is taking place in Bond’s home country, the UK. For any Londoner, the joy is doubled here as they can not only pick up some new tactics of beating rush hour on the London underground, but also see the painfully familiar MI6 building…well, from very interesting angles here. Setting the location for the film in the UK is only one of the ways the film uses to pay tribute to the James Bond franchise, celebrating its anniversary: the film also makes use of old James Bond theme, and Aston Martin DB5, a classic ‘James Bond’ car.
Verdict? Although ‘Skyfall’ has its drawbacks, it is still a very enjoyable action film overall, from its gripping beginning to its typical James Bond-style ending. The film has this feeling that a lot of hard work and thought were put into it, and nothing pleases as much as this. The effort paid off here, because the result looks very impressive. The film has an intelligent, interesting, twisty plot, decent special effects, great acting and a wonderful soundtrack. What more can one want? 9/10