Foreword from Sohrab Osati:
Chances are, either you or a great many of those around you have already seen Skyfall, the latest entry into the world of James Bond. With a gross of nearly $1 billion ($978 million for those playing at home), the latest 007 entry seems to have hit tall the right chords with audiences. Still, there are always the crowds who hold out, be it on principle that they don’t like some of the changes to a well established franchise or they have a problem with mega blockbusters that everyone is talking about. Having hovered in both groups though I never miss a midnight launch, our Skyfall review looks to answer that. Should you finally see the latest James Bond film before it disappears from theaters? Our Skyfall review after the jump.
I must admit, I wasn’t initially into James Bond as a kid (although I do remember watching the awful 90’s cartoon “James Bond Jr.” from time to time). The espionage thing just never quite caught my interest. But as I entered high school, a friend of mine lent me a VHS copy of Goldfinger and my tastes had apparently changed drastically. I immediately got the appeal of the fantasy secret service agent that travels the world, getting in and out of impossible scenarios in highly entertaining and often destructive ways. He always had a quip, always looked cool and always got the girl. There’s something that an aimless teen can appreciate in such escapism. Next, I saw the previous entry in the series, From Russia With Love, which to this day is still my favorite of the franchise and the bar by which I hold all others to for comparison.
As the years went by, I would eventually see the entire James Bond collection though tended to prefer the earlier entries. That’s why when the reboot Casino Royale hit, I totally fell back in love with a character that had gotten a bit stale. It had the sophistication and class of the Connery films while taking a page from the popular Bourne and Mission: Impossible franchises (both of which I enjoy) in regards to fight scenes and action sequences. The humor was still there, but the overt silliness of certain Bond adventures had thankfully been dropped (though this isn’t to say I don’t enjoy throwing those particular films on from time to time for a laugh). Though 007 will never quite be considered “realistic”, there was a sense of much needed grounding being brought back into the mix. Casino Royale was followed up by Quantum of Solace, a film that, while certainly decent, had a number of issues both in storytelling and the frantic editing style they chose to go with.
Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third time up at bat in the part and the 23rd entry in the “official” Eon Productions series. The plot involves an ex-MI6 agent portrayed (magnificently so) by Javier Bardem, of No Country for Old Men fame, who has it in for his former superior, M, played once again by Judi Dench, due to issues of past betrayal. Bond is of course tasked to find the foe in time and to foil the plot to assassinate her. Craig’s performance is a fresh take that leaves plenty of room to explore the character in ways Bond fans do not often get to see, with revelatory moments of personal history that humanize the archetypal figure, creating an added level of depth the audience can invest in.
The film has a surprisingly easy-to-follow plot, for a series that is known for its elaborate twists and turns. Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) directs, infusing a level of dramatic storytelling, unexpected for a franchise such as this, but that works beautifully to its advantage. From Istanbul, to Shanghai, Macau, London, and a truly breathtaking third act on the moors of Scotland, Skyfall follows in suit with the best of the series by giving us a beautiful array of international sights to behold. With stunning photography and editing, the film hits all the right marks and wraps up with a wonderful sense of coming full circle in the 50 years since the release of Dr. No.
Skyfall is not only one of the best Bond films to date, but also one of the best films of 2012.