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Film Review : Skyfall

11/11/2012 04:27PM ● Published by Justin Buettner

In the newest entry into the James Bond series, James Bond gets accidentally shot by a fellow agent while on duty. The incident leads to the loss of a database that contains the identity of every undercover operative in the world. Bond is considered dead, but in reality he goes into seclusion until a terrorist attack forces him out of early retirement. Will this aged and broken bond be able to fend off this new threat that strikes from the shadows?

To be honest I have never been a big James Bond fan. In fact I hated all of the films from the Dalton to Bronson era. The character of Bond never interested me and the men who played him always seemed like smarmy middle aged men that thought too highly of themselves. They did things I did not believe they could actually do and I never believed that the young and attractive ladies that fell for Bond would ever really fall for these guys. Then Casino Royale came along with Daniel Craig in the lead and finally a good Bond film was made. I liked it. Bond was now interesting. Craig was not only believable in the stunts but he also carried a haunted look. The story did not match Craig’s intensity, but because of Craig Bond as a character had a deeper undercurrent than what has come before. I looked forward to Quantum of Solace and gosh that was a bad movie. I still liked Daniel Craig in the role, but the story was a mess.

Fast forward to four years later and the filmmakers have finally got everything right. Skyfall is the first brilliant James Bond movie I have seen. The story finally is not only sophisticated of plot, but also character. They have finally written a James Bond that is more than a womanizer. This movie completely resets the universe of James Bond for a modern era while keeping intact many of the traits that fans of this franchise come to expect, namely the cars, gizmos, theme song, and girls. The story of Skyfall connects to James Bond personally and the character of Bond actually changes because of the events of the movie. No longer are the villains and plots in the vein of Cold War style espionage but they weave in modern style terrorists into the film.  The script written by Ian Fleming, Robert Wade, John Logan, and Neal Purvis hits all the right notes while elevating a James Bond movie into something more, and something greater than it has been before.

The team of filmmakers that have been brought together to make Skyfall are a squad of all-stars. Sam Mendes is one of the most underrated directors working today.  After he had a couple of critical and box office success with American Beauty and Road to Perdition, Mendes has opted for small independent movies since that time. Finally coming back to a big budgeted movie Mendes puts a large emphasis on performance and drama more than most action films. I also appreciated that he shot his action clearly with longer shots. There is no shaky cam, blurry image action sequences that has plagued so many action movies in recent years. In addition to Mendes, Skyfall employed one of the best cinematographers in film, Roger Deakin. Deakin raises the bar for image quality in a high budget action film, especially his ability to light night scenes. The end sequence where he plays with the orange and red lighting of a fire to light his scene is remarkable.

The cast of Skyfall is almost perfect. Not only does Craig cement his place along with Sean Connery as the best “Bond” actors, the supporting cast around Craig are all Academy Award quality talent. That includes Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes (one of my favorite actors). But Javier Bardem steps in as a villain that will be long remembered. Bardem has a knack for playing memorable bad guys, especially his role in No Country for Old Men. In Skyfall Bardem plays a completely different style of villain that is creepy in a very original way. His menace in the film helps ratchets the tension up.

The best thing about Skyfall is that although it’s the 23rd film in the series, the film is a perfect entry point to the Bond franchise. You do not need to know anything about James Bond before this film to know what is going on and who the characters are. In addition the movie lays the ground work for future installments in the series very well. The action scenes are well staged, clear, and elaborate but above all they are thrilling to watch. But as good as the action scenes are Skyfall’s brilliance lies at how it handles its characters and drama. There really is something for everyone in this movie and take it from someone who was never a fan of James Bond before, Skyfall is well worth your time.

Films like Skyfall : Casino Royale, Bourne Identity, and Mission Impossible

 


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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