The Liner Notes

SKYFALL (2012)

“Where the Hell have you been?” This is precisely what I was thinking after seeing Skyfall, the latest installment in the James Bond film franchise. Now, I’m by no means a Bond aficionado, but I consider this to be the best of all the Bond films I have seen. 2006’s Bond reboot, Casino Royale, thoroughly impressed me and was so looking forward to the sequel. Quantum of Solace, although following the storyline started in the previous film, was a poor follow-up. Skyfall, handled with such appreciation and precision by its director Sam Mendes, was the Bond film I had been waiting for.

When we first see Bond in the prologue, I thought to myself, “Man, Craig definitely looks older compared to when he was in Casino Royale. I mean, he is 44 years old, how is he going to look in the other two Bond movies he’s contracted to do.” This is actually one of the key themes of this film. James and M (Dame Judi Dench), both are facing the wall of mortality and whether or not they are still pertinent in this brave new world.  Just as Bruce Wayne struggled in The Dark Knight, the question is posed, he can’t possibly do this forever, can he?  Skyfall explores this notion, allowing us to see Bond fall from espionage pedestal he’s held for so long and see him as a man struggling to complete his duty to queen and country. Now, this story is as much about M as it is Bond, not only is she going through a similar crisis as Bond, but the shadowy, yet flamboyant villain (Javier Bardem) is connected to her. It was nice to see Dench come behind the desk and get in the trenches to show off her acting chops.

I have to say, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about this film. To be honest nothing comes to mind at the moment. The story is taught and character-centric, where the inevitable action sequences are in service to progressing the story and not just there for the sake of needing to wake-up the audience. The flow of the film is very taught, after intense or action scenes, we are given a moment of reflection to digest what we experienced. The shots used are beautiful and wonderfully composed. Shooting on location in Turkey, England, China, etc, allows for a richer palette and gives the audience a sense of grandeur that you don’t get from shooting in a studio.  Even the Bond title sequence and theme song, were well done and hold as one of the best of all 23 films, in my opinion. What was also intriguing and refreshing about this film was that we actually delve into James Bond’s youth, his secret origin, if you will.

Now, everyone knows that what makes a hero great are the rogues he must overcome. This case is no different, Javier Bardem taps into a colorfully disturbed man who has fallen from grace and wants retribution.  What usually makes a villain so potent is that they have similarities with the protagonist or are a distorted reflection of them. Bardem’s Raol Silva and Bond are two sides of the same coin and that makes for a powerful conflict. Bardem knows how to play a villain, what can I say. It’s an amazing performance that left me waiting for each scene he would appear in.  Of course, Craig is on top of his game since he’s under a good director. There is also a wonderful supporting cast that includes a Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. Oh and there is the introduction of Ben Whishaw as Q.

You don’t have to be a Bond fan to like this movie, although there are plenty of nods and references that wink to that audience. I could prattle on about how good this movie is, but why take my word for it- GO SEE IT! Part of me wishes that this was Craig’s swan song to Bond. It’s such a strong focus on death, past and future for Bond and the people within his inner circle that I couldn’t see how this could go on for two more films…then came the ending. People even remotely familiar with Bond will be excited or curious to see what the next installment will bring.  To think this film came about from a drunken conversation between Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes…


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