Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Berenice Lin Marlohe
Running Time: 143 minutes
Extras: Intro, Opening Sequence–The Death of Bond, Title Sequence–Working The Titles, 007–The Return of James Bond, Q–Back to Basics, DB5–Behind the Wheel, Women–The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful, Villains–In the Shadows, Locations–License To Travel, Music–The Sound of Bond, The End Sequence–The Beginning of the End, M–Changes, The Future–New Beginnings, Skyfall Premiere, Commentary by Director Sam Mendes, Commentary by Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production, Designer Dennis Gassner, Soundtrack Promotional Spot
In case it had somehow passed you by, 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of James Bond’s big screen debut DR NO. Times have moved on a little since Bond was tossing his bowler hat onto a coat stand to Miss Moneypenny’s amazement, we’ve had extraordinary highs: GOLDFINGER, LIVE AND LET DIE, GOLDENEYE, and CASINO ROYALE, and utter tripe: OCTOPUSSY, DIE ANOTHER DAY, and QUANTUM OF SOLACE. Following the latter’s muddled composition producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli sensibly chose a director who tells simple, great stories in Sam Mendes (AMERICAN BEAUTY, ROAD TO PERDITION). And he doesn’t disappoint.
From Bond’s (Daniel Craig) first appearance, walking from the shadows into a slither of light we are back on familiar ground, and the film doesn’t dare look back. The next 143 minutes are an adrenaline rush Felix Baumgartner would struggle to conjure.
An opening sequence of Bond in a ten minute chase of an assailant in possession of a list of every CIA agent in operation sees Mendes takes us through the streets, over roads, and on a train (literally); the action fast moving, inventive, and full of tension. Segueing seamlessly into the opening titles it is undoubtedly the most audacious opening to a Bond film in history. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME might have had them cheering as Roger Moore opened his parachute, but SKYFALL’s will make you flinch in the way Timothy Dalton’s love scenes did in the 80s. The sequence introduces us to Tanner – M’s right hand man – and reacquaints us with M. Judi Dench in her seventh outing has never been better: stubborn in the face of adversary her story is the centre of SKYFALL giving emotion, strength, and a vulnerability like no actress in Bond’s past. Added to the cast is Ralph Fiennes’ Mallory: stuffy, suit wearing, bureaucrat on the surface we know there is more to Mallory than meets the eye. The note-perfect screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan works wonderfully in defining characters new and old, and in Silva they’ve created one of the most memorable villains of Bond’s past. Played with a confidence you’d expect from Javier Bardem, Silva is everything you want: menacing, cold-blooded, and simple. He has a plan and will stop at nothing to see it through. As perfectly demonstrated by James Cameron’s TERMINATOR the real fear is when the antagonist will stop at nothing, Silva exemplifies this – never better showcased during one particularly uncomfortable scene with M.
Action aplenty, great characters and performances, and a tight script, what more do you want? Well, how about some of the most beautiful cinematography in film history. Regular Mendes collaborator Roger Deakins has done his best work since THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, maybe even ever. Capturing every punch, kick, and gunshot the visual’s are positively salivating with the one-shot fight in Shanghai a real highlight: backlit by advertising projections, the camera’s trundles forward to get us closer to the action. It is a perfect couple of minutes. There are so many other examples but it would seem impertinent to list them all.
Coming off the back of QUANTUM OF SOLACE many questioned whether Bond still had it, Mendes attachment made people stand up and take notice, but no one could have expected this. SKYFALL is a joy to watch, you’ll cheer, laugh, and cry. The best Bond film ever? Maybe, but above all SKYFALL is a fantastic movie that will appeal to Bond fans and non-Bond fans alike. The extras packed Blu-ray won’t disappoint either.