Article by: Coop Cooper
James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes underground when a judgement call by his superior, M (Judi Dench), leaves him abandoned and left for dead. Months later, after a terrorist attack on the British Intelligence MI6 complex massacres dozens of operatives and threatens to expose hundreds more, Bond returns to M and the service. Although his injuries and substance addiction leave him in poor shape to resume his duties, M decides Bond is her best bet against assassin and ex-MI6 agent, Silva (Javier Bardem). Silva, a master 00 operative and hacker, was driven mad by torture and disfigurement as a result of one of M’s more questionable decisions. While Silva executes the destruction of MI6 and attempts the assassination of M, Bond finds himself the sole protector to the boss who sanctioned his own death only months before.
Let it be known that MGM, after a long bankruptcy and resurrection, has successfully returned the Daniel Craig/James Bond franchise to greatness by completely ripping off Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight/Batman” trilogy. Here’s the catch: You can’t get upset about it because it works so well – especially in this case. Let’s break it down…
FIRST FILM: The hero learns who he is, develops invaluable skills and proves his worth to a system that has no faith in him. By the end, he is considered a loose cannon, but a hero and the most valuable asset in the system.
SECOND FILM: After losing the love of his life the hero dedicates himself to making an even more evil, chaotic force pay for its injustices, only to learn that villainy is not so easily contained or defined and sacrifices are often the only way to win.
THIRD FILM: Everything comes full-circle and the franchise completes its origin. I won’t spoil the rest of it for you if you have yet to see “The Dark Knight Rises” but rest assured that “Skyfall” echos so many Batman references – right down to the origin of Bond – that you might find yourself feeling a bit of deja-vu.
The most important part of this comparison is the ‘completing of the origin’ part of the Bond story. If you saw “The Dark Knight Rises” you should realize that this third film was not an end to the “Batman” story, but a clever way to finally usher in the complete Batman franchise you grew up with, only updated.
In the James Bond mythology, the same goes for “Skyfall”. This film isn’t a continuation to the reboot of the James Bond story, it’s the conclusion to his origin that was only hinted at in the classic Bond films. Here’s an example: In “Skyfall,” Bond finally meets ‘Q’ (Ben Whishaw), which we learn is short for ‘Quartermaster’ in this film. If you’re a classic Bond fan, you should realize there are at least a couple more allies – besides Felix Leiter – whom he should have met by now… and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
By far, this is the most well-acted modern Bond movie. Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) focused his energies on character development and relationships rather than action and set pieces. This gamble paid off. This was a fine strategy considering “Skyfall” is the least-conventional Bond film ever made (minus Woody Allen’s spoof “Casino Royale” adaptation). Granted, there is still plenty of action and hero/villain posturing but I think for once, the acting was elevated into the Academy Award-range, especially where villain Silva played by Javier Bardem is concerned.
Not since he won “Best Supporting Actor” for his iconic role as Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men,” has Bardem achieved such a frightening and powerful performance. As Bond villains go, Bardem has easily externalized one of the most dangerous, vile and creepiest Bond villains to date. He’s charming and funny, until he makes sexually threatening suggestions. He’s easy to sympathize with, until he starts giggling and removing his false dentures. M says he was the greatest 00 operative before Bond. You can only try to imagine what he used to be after the atrocities he commits on screen.
Two more interesting points… 1. Ralph Fiennes plays a interesting character that should not be easily dismissed, especially at the beginning. 2. The title of the film “Skyfall” is a twist unto itself… It even explains why this new Bond franchise so closely mirrors the recent Batman franchise.
I dock it a point for blatantly copying the last three Batman movies and for experimenting with the Bond franchise to a point where it no longer resembles the Bond formula (which was handled so flawlessly in the 2006 “Casino Royal” reboot). Despite that, I’d say it was a bold way to complete the origin and I give it all the respect it deserves.
Rating: 4 out of 5