Movie review: ‘Skyfall’ sets new precedent for Bond

By Max Sullivan

The hit movie “Skyfall” is as good of a spy thriller as you can make today. It is captivating in its simplicity, the characters are a blast, and the cinematography is gorgeous. Without a doubt, it topped a great movie in “Casino Royale” for the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films so far, and it probably will hold that title for a long time.

“Skyfall” is a major turnaround from the last Bond movie, “Quantum of Solace” (2008), because, unlike Quantum, “Skyfall” is an extremely simple movie. There is never any question as to where Bond is and what he is doing. There is a clearly established bad guy, and there is no question what his motivation is: to get revenge for being cast out by M from MI6. It is as basic as a Star Wars movie. At the end of “Skyfall,” good prevails over evil in the simplest and, consequently, the most powerful fashion.

First-time Bond director Sam Mendes tested the series’ waters with a bold story line: a villain has gained access to the identities of MI6’s undercover agents and bombs their headquarters. It gives the film a greater urgency than your run-of-the-mill Bond movie.

MI6 is seriously endangered. This makes the viewer feel like “Skyfall” matters in the 007 series. This is not a typical day for Bond, where he just needs to shoot a few goons and save the girl. When a massive explosion goes off at MI6 headquarters and six Union Jacks are draped over their respective coffins, it becomes apparent that this story matters.

The biggest reason this movie is so fun, though, is that Bond and the characters surrounding him look and feel extremely lively. The audience doesn’t have to assume anything about them.

“Skyfall” successfully demonstrates Bond’s macho nature and super villain Silva’s (Javier Bardem) devilishly evil charm.

The script, pacing and acting all work together to do so. When Bond is shot from an explosion and into a train car, he doesn’t fall to his hands and knees. Rather, he lands on his feet, props himself up swiftly, and walks down the car, past the camera, fixing his cuffs as if he were walking into a ballroom.

When Silva makes his grand entrance at the end of the movie, he does so in a grand fashion, blasting “Boom Boom” by the Animals through the speakers attached to his massive gunship, adding a bit of comic appeal as he flies in to finish off the protagonist. These moments have borderline cartoonish charm, but they are so well done that they leave audiences thinking to themselves that, yes, Bond and his nemesis really can be that cool. It is very easy to buy into what “Skyfall” is portraying in the Bond universe.

Mendes managed to make “Skyfall” a very physical film while still keeping the audience engaged in nearly every frame. Whether Bond is flying across rooftops on a motorcycle or clinging to the bottom of an elevator in a skyscraper, every shot has something unique to offer, and the action is always surrounded by fantastic scenery, from the night skyline of Shanghai to the cloud covered hills of Scotland.

Even the most casual Bond fan will enjoy “Skyfall.” Its perfectly paced, and the characters are wellwritten and fantastically played. After seeing it once, it is worth seeing again. Even the second time through, it is difficult to look away.

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