Never before has a James Bond film attracted so much hype. Skyfall nearly didn’t happen. With Ian Fleming’s back catalogue quickly running dry and MGM experiencing serious financial problems it seemed we had seen the end of 007. However, with the help of some infamous product placement deals and the patience of Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig has once again burst onto our screens.
The return of the sixth Bond comes in the form of a spectacular opening sequence. Rumoured to have taken three months to complete, the action scene that precedes Adele’s title track is incredible. Set in Turkey, we see Bond do battle with a fleeting adversary before a mishap results in him falling to almost certain death. With MI6 assuming the worst, this sets the scene for an almighty come-back from Bond following a terrorist attack in London.
Although the plot has been criticised due to it’s reliance on M, exploring her relationship with Bond and more widely the 00-agents she commands seems to be a fitting basis for a film marking the 50th anniversary of the franchise. From the outset, 007 relentlessly shows his passion for his country and his undying duty to M. Despite her curt and cold demeanour towards James throughout the film, you can’t help but appreciate the affection between both characters.
Skyfall’s villain is the terrifying Javier Bardem. Having proved his psychotic worth in films such as No Country For Old Men, Bardem brings a dark edge to his character, Silva. A computer-terrorist who has betrayed MI6, his worldly antics see the film jump between Turkey, China and London. Instead of the usual ambition for world domination shown so often by Bond ‘baddies’, Silva has a particular axe to grind with the British government. Bardem articulates this burning anger and desire for revenge with aplomb.
Much of the films scenes are set in the British capital. Whether pursuing Silva on the underground or tearing around the streets in his DB5, Skyfall is a quintessentially British Bond. Perhaps the underlies it’s importance as the film to mark the 50th anniversary of the franchise. Ben Whishaw puts in a fantastic performance as Q, deftly mimicking many of the mannerisms that made Desmond Llewelyn such a character. Gadget fans will be disappointed though, as Bond is equipped with nothing more than his trusty PPK and a radio device in this outing.
A key theme that emerges during Skyfall is redemption. Although it has been well documented that this film sees Bond revisit his childhood to gain closure from a famously mysterious upbringing, we also see guilt plague M throughout the film. Tuning in to the emotional depths behind the franchise has been criticised by some. However, this is always juxtapositioned by Bond’s undying instinct to prove his worth and “get the job done”. Through 2 hours and 25 minutes of whirlwind action, grit and determination, that’s exactly what he does.