To begin with I must state that I am NOT a Bond fan. But I have an open mind and of all the Bond movies I’ve seen in my time (many) I have to say that I thought Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale was probably my favourite. I chose not to see Quantum of Solace; a movie with a name as ridiculous as that had to be hiding something and it seems my gut feel was right given its poor reviews. But Skyfall seemed different. Certainly the advance reviews have been excellent and so I turned up on opening weekend willing to be impressed.
This is, by some margin, the finest Bond film I’ve ever seen. Although it has its faults (it’s a little too long) it scores points in nearly every department; the acting is universally excellent, The plot and script suitably overblown but flecked with humour and humanity throughout. Outrageous chases and set pieces (the rooftop motorbike chase just about winning price for most audacious chase scene I’ve ever seen).
But it’s what lies at the soul of this film (and it really does have a soul) is the cast. In particular we see the cloth lifted on what motivates Bond, his back story and in particular his upbringing. It’s this that starts to flesh out his (and more unexpectedly Javier Bardem’s) relationship with M who although as feisty as ever actually develops into quite a sympathetic and interesting subplot.
The film is excellently directed (by Sam Mendes!) with a theme (yes a Bond movie with a “theme”) about age and the battle between tradition and modernity running through it like a stick of rock (occasionally clunkily so). This allows the production team to have great fun with old Bond gadgetry (and music) alongside the very latest in technology – an obfuscated living data network being at its centrepiece which allows a new and ridiculously young looking (he’s actually 32) Q to be introduced in the shape of Ben Wishaw (Perfume).
But its Daniel Craig’s complete mastery of Bond as a character that is setting the movie industry into overdrive and not surprisingly. In the movie, in tune with the theme of age and aging, he’s almost not fit for purpose having “taken one for the team” possibly once too often. He’s on the verge of breakdown at the movie’s outset and takes the requisite, and to be expected, barrage of beatings as it unfolds, emerging at its denoument just about in one piece and ready for action with whatever lies in store in the next instalment. It’s an interesting dimension and works well with Judi Dench’s excellent central performance as M.
Craig is the complete Bond. Rugged, handsome, athletic, suave but with more steel than any since Connery and, to my mind, he’s a better actor than Mishter Cool himself.
As the face of not one but two major film franchises (The Girl with…) he’s solid gold and, for my money, worth every penny of it.
I also like Adele’s theme music.