Like the Batman film series James Bond has also been “rescued”. During the Pierce Brosnan/Timothy Dalton years the franchise fell in quality in the public’s eyes. Now with Daniel Craig in the titular role it has been revived. This is Craig’s third go round and director Sam Mendes’ (Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition) first. They both demonstrate that they have an aptitude for this type of film.
A James Bond film is a particular type all unto its own. You expect little dialogue, fast pace, lots of explosions, beautiful women, evil villains, and Bond coming out on top in the end. 007 is a man who beds the ladies and kills or captures the bad guys. On top of all that usual stuff this film adds an emotional depth to the secret agent that we haven’t often seen. At first I was thinking it wasn’t wise to tinker with a formula that has worked for 50 years. After seeing Skyfall I admit the emotions added a whole other layer to the film and fit in seamlessly.
In Istanbul, James Bond (Daniel Craig – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Cowboys & Aliens) and a female agent (Naomie Harris – 28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End) are in pursuit of a man who has a list that contains the name of every MI6 agent working undercover throughout the world. For obvious reasons, M (Judi Dench – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, My Week With Marilyn) has instructed them to get it back any way possible. In the end M gives the female agent to take the shot while Bond and the man are fighting on top of a moving train. The shot is not true and ends up hitting Bond, who falls off the train into the water below. 007 is no more. M has an obituary to write.
Back in London M’s computer account has been hacked into and threatening emails start coming. Then MI6 headquarters is bombed and several agents are killed. New bureaucrat Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes – Schindler’s List, The English Patient) asks M for her resignation saying that the spy world has passed her by. M being M refuses and continues on looking for this criminal computer hacker.
Soon after the attack the presumed dead Bond, who has been drinking heavily on some beach location, returns to London and wants to go straight back to work. After M accepts him back, Bond is back in action and hunting for the man (Javier Bardem – No Country For Old Men, Eat Pray Love) behind these threats.
There is always a “special” look to the Bond films and Mendes knows this. A couple of scenes are absolutely treats for your eyes. One happens in a building with tons of windows and glass walls that reflect all the neon lights from outside and the other is the final scenes that happen on Bond’s rural childhood home (a mansion) in Scotland. Courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakins (A Beautiful Mind, The Shawshank Redemption) this is probably the most beautiful Bond film of them all. He uses nighttime in Shanghai and the countryside of Scotland to his benefit.
Mendes is obviously a fan of the film series. His knowledge of the style and main character comes shining through on several occasions. From the stylized way it looks and the in jokes told this is a film made with respect to what has gone before it. Mendes manages to keep this a typically Bond film while also offering us some huge actions scenes that are usually only available in crap, tent pole, big budget Hollywood action films.
An interesting and new aspect of this Bond film is how it is addressed that he is an old fashioned spy who is getting a little long in the tooth. No matter the age of the other actors playing Bond this subject was never broached. Even though he is in no way the oldest actor to play James Bond Daniel Craig brings a lot of realism to this aspect of the story. He has succeeded in adding many layers to a character who doesn’t actually say that much. Whereas Craig does not have to learn many lines he does have to be very physical in the role. Craig is nice to look at while still being full of the simmering just under the surface anger this character possesses. Whether it is getting into a shower, bedding a bevy of beautiful women or engaging in hand to hand combat with a baddie, Daniel Craig succeeds at every level.
Another actor who has a great go round is Judi Dench. She as M features much more in the film and is so good I cannot picture anyone else in the role. As hard as she is in the beginning of the film is as vulnerable at the end. Cold then warm – it is not something many actresses can realistically achieve. Judi Dench possesses such talent that she is fluidly able to bring M through all these ups and downs or ins and outs. This is definitely her strongest Bond film.
-Soundtrack Promotional Spot
-Sneak Peeks at A Good Day to Die Hard, The Blu-ray Experience, 3D Comes Home, Bond 50th Anniversary, Red Dawn, Taken 2, Broken City, Hitchcock, Marine 3, Shadow Dancer