Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Skyfall (2012)

Spy in the Sky

Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Allow me to delve a little into my background with the Bond franchise. I never really got into the Bond films when I was younger, and as I grew up, I didn't have an interest in seeing any of them, as the genre never really interested me too much. A couple of years ago, I came across Daniel Craig's Casino Royale one night on ITV 1 and decided to give it a chance. Needless to say, I was blown away by it, from the astounding opening credits to the emotional ending. After that, I gave Quantum of Solace a watch, expecting something as great as it's predecessor, and was disappointed, mostly with the poor choice of a villain. So don't expect me to comment on whether this is the best Bond film, if it's a worthy celebration of the franchise's 50th anniversary or on how well incorporated any references to the other flicks were. But even I could understand the sheer brilliance of a certain vehicle popping up...

Daniel Craig is everything the character of James Bond should be. When he need to be brutal, he's a force to be reckoned with, he's suave when he needs to be, and most important of all, he's human. Craig doesn't play the role as if he's just some near-invincible superspy, but behind the curtain of his icy blue eyes, he allows us a peek at his vulnerabilities and his damaged psyche.

Many actors can give great performances as a film villain and be lucky enough to be considered memorable, but not everyone can be lucky enough to do this twice. Javier Bardem proves his luck by giving a magnificent turn as Raoul Silva, managing to be equally chilling and charismatic, and is sure to go down as one of the years best antagonists.

The great thing about Silva is that his ultimate goal isn't some grand scheme, such as taking over the world or making a large sum of money, but the more personal and simple aim of revenge, and he's willing to stop at nothing to fulfill his goal, uncaring of who else gets hurt in the process.

The IT Crowd: The Next Generation

Naomie Harris gives a great performance as Eve, an MI6 field agent who shares great chemistry with Craig, while Bérénice Lim Marlohe gets a few good scenesof her own in. Ralph Fiennes' Gareth Mallory could've easily been a one-note pencil pusher, but manages to be a valuable addition to the film that leaves you wanting to see more of the character. Ben Whishaw's Q acts as a Chloe O'Brien figure to Bond's Jack Bauer, communicating with him and directing him from MI6's headquarters while Bond is in the field, with their exchanged banter serving as one of the films highlights.

But the Bond girl of this film is not Eve, nor is it Sévérine, but actually M. Once again, Dame Judi Dench plays her role exceptionally, managing to greatly balance the maternal figure she acts towards Bond with the cold calculating side that got her character to the top of MI6. It also helps that most of her lines contribute to the films (many) humorous moments.

A theme that echoes through the film is how Bond is "a relic of the Cold War" and whether he is needed, considering how powerful technology has now become. This is evident through Q's dialogue on his first encounter with Bond, and Silva manages to prove how a simple click of the mouse can be just as deadly as one of Bond's bullets. But Bond is there to remind how every now and then, a man needs to be there to pull the trigger.

From a Bazaar chase in Turkey to all sorts of escapades in London, the cinematography is pretty exquisite and consistently dripping with style, with the standout being within a building in Shanghai. I expect an award nomination at the very least for Cinematography.

Skyfall can be said to be a lot of things, but ultimately, it's a film that's one hell of a thrill ride to watch. Starring an exceptional cast who greatly play their relatively complex characters, powered by a powerful story and boasting a sense of fun, which many have said to be missing from Craig's Bond endeavors, all of this makes Skyfall's 142 minute run time fly by.

And the opening credits? Utterly brilliant.

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