Skyfall *****

Rumoured to be Craig’s final appearance as the iconic English hero, and with critical acclaim from sources as diverse as Empire and the Vatican’s very own newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the latest Bond installment has delighted fans the world over.

Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall completes Craig’s modern Bond trilogy in unparalleled style, reinvigorating the franchise once more and cementing our hero as a thoroughly twenty first century leading man. Skyfall, featuring a theme song by Adele is of marathon length at almost 3 hours long, but as the old saying goes: time flies when you’re having fun.

Split into five acts, this feature length phenomenon follows Bond into ‘the shadows’, delving into the darkest corners of his mind and his past, adding a depth and intelligence previously neglected by the brand. Craig’s character is explored in fine detail, as we learn about his tragic childhood and understand what drove him to become an agent. This extra dimension to Bond is welcome in this modern reinvention, which has always worked hard to bring the story up to date and give a modern audience exactly what they expect from a contemporary action movie: which is a lot more than just set-piece battles sequences.

Following Bond’s supposed demise at the hands of a fellow agent, M (Judi Dench) is left rattled and forced to contemplate her future as head of MI6. Her ‘transition period’ is overseen by cabinet minister Mallory (the excellent Ralph Fiennes) as the cracks begin to show beneath this iron lady’s stony visage. A series of unnerving events including (SPOILER) an attack on MI6 itself leave M shaken, and once more reliant on the miraculously-resurrected Bond.

As always, this Bond movie is full of gadgets, gorgeous women and golden locations. The scenery of the film is stunning: be it the city-scape of Shanghai at night, a serene lake in Macau or the expanse of hills and sky in Glen Coe, Scotland, Craig is filmed against a backdrop of some of the most stunning scenery in the world. As one would expect, the cinematography is incredible, and the art department have worked tirelessly to create a flawless set.

New characters abound as the story launches into a whole new world, with Naomie Harris offering an intriguing new flirtation as Eve, and Ben Whishaw as the young and fresh-faced Q, much to the annoyance of Craig’s Bond. Other supporting actors including Albert Finney as Kincade, Bérénice Marlohe as the beautiful Sévérine and Rory Kinnear as M’s assistant Tanner are not to be overlooked.

By far the most exciting addition to the cast, though, is Javier Bardem’s Silva: unsettling, incredibly creepy and jarringly camp, his performance is the highlight of the film. A previous favourite of M’s during her time in Hong Kong, Silva is an agent-gone-rogue, and has terrifying ideas about building his very own empire of terror. Choosing his own secret missions, Silva is able to hack the most secure computer systems in the world, wreaking destruction wherever he pleases.

Bardem is the perfect Bond villain, maintaining a balance between being entertaining and entirely repulsive, achieveing a unique charisma and level of power over the world the characters inhabit. His presence  demeanor and delivery are all spot-on, and the make up department also did an excellent job here.

Part of the beauty of Skyfall are the nods to all of the classic Bond films. With one-liners such as ‘for her eyes only’ and jokes about the old gadgets, Mendes injects a sense of nostalgia into this modern-day adaptation, without being cheesy or detracting from the feel of the film. The allusions to previous missions, with the help of the infamous original guitar music are entirely welcome and pay tribute to the golden age of espionage. Although at times the seamless flow is interrupted by unabashed product placement, the advertising hardly detracts from a film where fans actually come to see the gadgets and technology on display.

Creating the perfect marriage of old and new, Mendes injects Skyfall with a beautiful nostalgia  whilst finding time to set the scene for a whole new era of Bond. The entire cast work together perfectly, with spectacular action scenes, emotional depth and engaging back-story all uniting to produce the perfect end to Craig’s trilogy as Bond.

About teafortwotalk

Freelance writer @Pickwickmag @Corridor8 @Biennial / Editor @artinliverpool. Available for writing and copyediting.
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