Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Skyfall" is an amazing blast of action filmmaking

Fifty years ago, a spy franchise based on Ian Fleming's best selling novels was started. The first film was Dr. No and it became an instant hit. The James Bond franchise spawned twenty-two films after that one and became one of the most well known and loved film series' in the world that has been played by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. The twenty-third James Bond film, Skyfall, was released this year. And I can tell you, it is one of the best Bonds yet.

Skyfall begins with an exciting chase through the streets of Istanbul. Bond (Daniel Craig) is chasing Patrice (Ola Rapace) a man who has stolen the drive containing the identity of every NATO and MI6 agent fighting terrorist organizations across the globe. Bond chases Patrice across a train but the other agent (Naomie Harris) who is helping Bond shoots Bond and he falls off the train. Bond is presumed dead but after an attack on the MI6 building in London, Bond returns to hunt down the cyberterrorist Silva (Javier Bardem), who is bent on revenge against M (Judi Dench) and MI6. It all ends in a series of exciting action and chases that make Skyfall one of the most exciting Bond films yet.

Skyfall is an immensly entertaining film. The action is entertaining, the dialogue is good and the acting is fantastic as well. In many ways, Skyfall is a classic Bond film. It has all the excitement and small touches of the original films but with a modern feel. It has all the elements like the sadistic villain, the exotic locales and the beautiful Bond girls. Both Craig and director Sam Mendes say that they wanted to make a classic Bond film that was a bit lighter than the previous installments and they definitely did that.

In many ways, Skyfall mirrors The Dark Knight. Its themes have a lot to do with terrorism and what people do to stop them but director Sam Mendes put a cool twist on it. In The Dark Knight, the Joker creates chaos with bombs and guns and weapons. Skyfall's Silva does it all with a computer. He kills with the press of a button on a keyboard and that scares both Bond and M, who feel that they have fallen behind in the world of espionage. They used to be able to stop the bad guys by sending agents with guns into the field but now its a different world. I thought that element was very interesting and that it put a nice twist on the over-used terrorism angle.

The direction and cinematography are fantastic. Unlike Marc Forster in Quantum of Solace, Sam Mendes films Skyfall with fluidity: you can always tell what is going on in the action. It has a sleek, cool look to it that has more in common with a Christopher Nolan film than any Bond or Bourne movie in the last ten years. The cinematography is stunning. If cinematographer Roger Deakins does not get an Oscar for his work on the film, I will be surprised. There is so much right about the way he films the movie. The scenes in Shanghai are breathtaking and mindblowing and I loved every minute of them. Everything in the film has a sense of beauty or excitement to it and I hope Deakins is recognized at the year's end.

The acting is fabulous, led by strong performances from Craig, Dench, and Bardem. Bond and M's emotional story is the heart of the story but the standout for me is Bardem. He gives such evil power to Silva and one of the standouts of the film is the entrance of Silva who gives a scary dialogue to Bond, who is strapped to a chair. He's like a slightly less creepy yet more homosexual Joker. He carries the second half of the film.

The film has some plot holes. One of the unque and powerful things about Skyfall is that it gives Bond a backstory, but it is a slightly under-developed. It is adressed and is handled in the simplest of terms but it is something I hope they adress more in the future Bond films.

Overall, Skyfall is a fantastic Bond film. It is the best Bond that Daniel Craig has been in so far and a very exciting action film. It has some minor holes but the film is good enough to warrant a five star rating. I think that the other exciting thing is that it lays the groundwork for future Bond films. In some ways, Skyfall is more of a reboot than Casino Royale. I have seen Skyfall twice now and I left both times excited for the next one. I hope that Mendes and Logan return and I can't wait for November 2014.

THE FINAL GRADE:  A+                                            (10/10)

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