Movie review: ‘Skyfall’ proves James Bond is still relevant after 50 years

By Matt Grippi

How do you keep a film series fresh after 23 films and 50 years? Somehow, the people behind the latest Bond film, “Skyfall,” miraculously found the answer to that question.

There are certain aspects of every James Bond film that audiences have begun to expect. He drinks martinis, makes witty remarks, sleeps with dangerous women and talks back to authority. It takes a skilled writer and director to implement these things without repeating themselves or getting cheesy. Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) does a beautiful job of including all of these things while also tweaking and playing with the Bond mythology in intriguing ways.

In 2006’s “Casino Royale” we were briefly shown Bond’s soft side when he fell in love with the beautiful Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green. “Skyfall” brings back Bond’s psychological side by showing how a near-death experience on a job-gone-wrong affects his psyche.

After being betrayed by his own people and presumed dead, Bond returns to MI6 after hearing about a massive terrorist attack on the agency’s office. An unknown villain has stolen a list of the secret identities of all of the British undercover operatives and is threatening to reveal five of their names every week. This has made Bond’s boss M (Judi Dench) look bad, and the government is threatening to force her into retirement.

The villain turns out to be the evil computer hacker Raoul Silva, a genius programmer who may have connections to MI6 himself. Silva is played brilliantly by Javier Bardem who steals almost every scene he is in.

In 2007 Bardem proved he could play a cold menacing villain in “No Country For Old Men.” However, the character of Silva is unlike that character in every way. Instead of cold and calculating, Bardem plays Silva as a playful flamboyant trickster, which makes him seem all the more menacing.

Bond villains have always been borderline cartoon characters, but Silva has a humanity to him that is rarely seen in these films. Much like “Skyfall” shows us some of what makes 007 who he is, we also get to see what could possibly transform a man into a murderous monster.

“Skyfall” pulls back the curtain on another classic Bond character, M. M has been played by Dame Judi Dench for the past six films. She was even there before Bond went blonde-haired and blue-eyed, back when he looked like Pierce Brosnan.

Not much has really been shown about M’s character; she always seemed like someone who is all business. In “Skyfall” we get to see what kind of toll this job has taken on her and how she holds it together when everything starts to go wrong. Dench brings a human quality to the character that we haven’t really seen before, and she finally gets some screen time outside of her office.

“Skyfall” manages to teach us more about the characters we know and love while also including all of the action, car chases, sex scenes and espionage that is expected from the series. Because of this, “Skyfall” manages to be more than just another Bond movie and may be the character’s greatest adventure yet.

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