James Bond is back with a vengeance. After the colossal misstep of 2008’s Quantum of Solace, the 2nd Bond film to star Daniel Craig, the brain trust behind Britain’s greatest secret agent regrouped and delivered the goods. Helming this new Bond picture is first time action director Sam Mendes. Known primarily for his dramatic films (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), Mendes shows a flair for creating intense sequences that will keep you with your hands clenched. True to form, though, he also helps the actors dig into their roles with fervor. This is a character driven action film so good that its resounding success at the box office is no surprise.
Skyfall opens with a nail biting chase through crowded streets in Turkey and a death defying fight atop a moving train. After that, Adele sings us through the titel sequence with the classiest Bond theme in decades. Once the credits end, all hell breaks loose for MI6, the government agency that employs 007. A cyber terrorist, played by a deliciously evil Javier Bardem, enacts revenge on the one person he feels responsible for his fall from grace: Judi Dench’s M,’ the head of MI6. Bond drags himself back into the services of the Queen and country to go out and take down Bardem’s villain.
The movie moves the Bond franchise further into the new millennium, with an emphasis on new technology over Cold War gadgets. One of the themes of Skyfall is the passage of time and how Bond may be antiquated in the modern age. Are secret agents necessary when we can track a man through his cell phone and spy on him from a satellite in space? This film’s answer is yes. All of the technology in the world is meaningless if you don’t have intimate human contact to get you close to your man. The writers, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, also delve into the mysterious background of the hero, explaining why he’s the man he is (here’s a hint, it had something to do with the film’s title).
Mendes and company pay tribute to the film series long legacy, with appearances by the new Q’ (Ben Whishaw) and eventually the new Moneypenny. Additionally, the classic Bond Aston Martin makes an appearance, and Thomas Newman interweaves the instantly recognizable Bond theme throughout his film score. The director has assembled another exceptional cast for one of his films, including Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and a wonderful Albert Finney. The brilliant cinematographer, Roger Deakins, proves that action movies can be artistic even though two men are fighting to death. The silhouette fight in a Shanghai hi-rise between Bond and an assassin if poetry to watch.
Daniel Craig continues to shine as Bond. Perhaps this is sacrilegious for Bond aficionados, but I actually like him better than Sean Connery. Craig brings a weight to the character that has always been lacking, in my opinion. The actor is signed on for at least two more 007 films. As a person who has only had a passing interest in James Bond throughout his life, I can honestly say that I can’t wait for the next one.
The Blu-ray comes with pretty standard bonus features. Commentary, behind the scenes featurettes and theatrical trailers.