There are action sequences that begin a James Bond film and then there is what director Sam Mendes and screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan have given us in Skyfall.
Daniel Craig appears for the first time in his third Bond film, blurrily walking towards the camera. He is in a hallway and something is very wrong. From those opening moments where his Obama-like ears give away who is coming closer in the shadows, until the power of Adele is unleashed with her theme in the opening credits, it is one breath-holding 20-minute introduction to the Skyfall story.
It has been four years since Quantum of Solace and six years since Craig rocked our world in Casino Royale. The actor is back with a vengeance in a story that not only gives the talented thespian something emotionally charged to work with, but also a series of action stunts that will surely go down in the Bond canon as some of its most tense, effectively original and bombastically brilliant.
Skyfall, much as The Dark Knight Rises did, utilizes the third movie in a series idea of simultaneously closing and rebooting a trilogy. In some ways, bringing back your hero from the brink gives our protagonist -- who is flawed, slower and even painted as a little old -- something to prove. He emerges better than ever.
The film still scores in setting up the Craig-based series for a longer haul. And that is why it is equally creative in its ability to further introduce us to a character we’ve known for 50 years, but specifically the actor with the steely blue eyes who now fully commands every inch of the explosive world that is Ian Fleming’s James Bond. And the Skyfall Bond girls are up for the task as well -- helping, seducing and sending our hero in and out of danger.
Mendes, as a lifelong Bond fan, brings something unique to the project. Don’t get me wrong, every single director who has crafted 23 legendary 007 movies over the years shares it. But, there's something about the Oscar winner for American Beauty and his realism meets fanaticism that is uncannily right for this story, this time in Bond history, the actor who is playing Bond and the socio-political world that we inhabit.
Much as the film does not introduce us physically to our villain until after almost an hour, our Skyfall review too saves him for our final push. Javier Bardem is Silva and it is uncanny what he does in furthering the archetype that is the Bond villain by taking it to levels of humanism and pure horror.
Bardem played a villain in No Country for Old Men and took home an Oscar. Why should he not be considered for one for his place in the Bond villain history books? And while Movie Fanatic is at it, there is no question that Skyfall deserves to be nominated for Best Picture. It is the type of film that the Academy had in mind when it expanded the category.
Besides, it is simply that good.
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