(PCM) James Bond celebrates half a century on the silver screen with the release of Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as the titular spy in his third outing. Fans have endured four long years, watching old 007 movies on cable TV awaiting the iconic spy’s return. The wait was worth it. Bond No. 23 resurrects the series with convention-defying elements and a more immediate, personal story that steers clear of world domination. Appropriately, 007 himself is resurrected after the title sequence (the theme sung by the talented Adele), having suffered from friendly fire during a battle on top of a moving train in Istanbul. Head of the MI6, M (Judi Dench), wastes no time in writing his obituary before Bond inevitably reemerges.
A New Bond
We haven’t seen the British secret agent in this light before. He’s scruffy and grizzled, an agent past his prime who’s lost his physical edge. Bond concedes to M that he’s been playing this game maybe too long. It’s fitting, 50 years after the first 007 film. But his unwavering loyalty to both M and his nation is the only fuel 007 needs to complete his mission. Fellow MI6 agent, Eve, aptly likens Bond to an old dog, new tricks. Skyfall delves into Bond’s history, motivations and childhood trauma more than ever; the film’s title even has symbolic significance to Bond’s past. The new side of Bond is complemented with new actors filling in for iconic roles. Ben Whishaw plays a precocious young Q, making us question why we ever preferred the octogenarian version (no disrespect to the original and brilliant Desmond Llewelyn). Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris also bring in fine performances as Gareth Mallory and Evebut these names are merely misnomers for their eventual reveals.
A threat emerges in the form of cyber-terrorist Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva is a former agent with a faux-mother complex, enacting a personal vendetta against M and the MI6. At the beginning of the film, Bond is tasked with retrieving a hard drive containing the names of undercover NATO agents stolen by Silva. He warns M to think on your sins through a series of computer hacks before bombing MI6 headquarters. The blond baddie radiates a psycho sexual creepiness the pinnacle of creepy is reached in a visceral scene where audiences learn what happens when using a cyanide capsule goes horrifically wrong.
Behind the Scenes
Director Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition, American Beauty) confidently tackles the action/adventure genre with grace and finesse. Mendes brings a humanity to Bond and adds depth to his strenuous relationship with mother figure and boss, M. This is also due to the strength of the screenwriter trio’s script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan (and of course, based on Ian Fleming’s creation). Cinematographer Roger Deakins infuses Skyfall with aesthetic excellence whether it’s the stark chiaroscuro of Bond versus henchman against luminous jellyfish projections in Shanghai or the foggy green moors of Scotland. In fact, Deakins’ work has been nominated for Best Cinematography nine times at the Academy Awards but never won someone give this man an Oscar.