Sam Mendes has already proved to the critical world that he can produce a masterpiece. “American Beauty” is a haunting film that won several Academy Awards including earning him the big trophy for director. That being said, from that film to this one, there is no resemblance. He seems to enjoy darker tones so those are the only things that show through, but apart from that you would have never guessed that the same man did both. Daniel Craig has been James Bond for a few movies and many people are mixed about their opinions of him. But in this venture, he steps into the character and makes sure that no one can doubt that he is Bond.
Many of the quirks of Skyfall lie with the writing. Self-reference jokes are made such as the one during the meeting with Q: “What were you expecting? An exploding pen?” From the beginning of the movie you can see that the Skyfall team has ditched the cliche themes that are associated with the Bond movies.
Judi Dench reprises her role as M (no relation to the 1931 movie about a child killer) and she is always enjoyable as the curt head of MI6. Is the action pointless? No! absolutely not. There is not a dull moment in Skyfall, it’s a magnificently crafted action movie that doesn’t fall into all the potholes that its contemporaries do. I was surprised when I found out that Mendes had done it because the genres are so far apart from “American Beauty” to “Skyfall” that I wasn’t prepared for something as exciting as the new Bond film.
The special effects are wonderful and the script is actually very clever. I pointed out the joke with Q earlier but what the camera does or does not focus on are sometimes references to other Bond films without being blunt. Example: Bond sits and starts to question a sultry woman at the bar who may have information or a secret agenda. When his martini is made, the bar tender shakes it up and pours it out. He smirks and says, “Perfect.” See! It’s really great!
In the opening credits, which have become a somewhat trademark of Bond films, the darker themes show through: blood in water makes the curves of the Bond women as they dance and swirl back into un-recognition. Adele’s theme for the movie seems like one of the easiest Oscars this year to predict. If she doesn’t win for Best Original Song, I will be shocked. Naomie Harris ditches her Calypso outfit and heavy accent from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” to become a fellow spy who can fight with the best of them.
“Skyfall” creates great moral dilemmas that will keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. It’s wonderfully pieced together and brilliantly acted. Javier Bardem is stunning. I already knew this, having seen “No Country for Old Men” some time ago. He took home the Oscar for that and I think that it’s a crime that he didn’t even get recognized at the Oscars this year. No one can be a villain like him. He really makes the movie and steals the spotlights while still allowing for other actors to shine around him. Javier Bardem is not outright scary, but he creeps up inside you and surprises you with his malice. See how the scene when he is introduced doesn’t show his face for a long time. It’s one camera shot down a long hall. Bardem struts down the hall and the camera never wavers. It lets him come to it and not vice versa.
Will there be another Bond movie? Is this the last one? You'll have to see for yourself and make that decision personally. If there are more Bond movies I certainly hope that Sam Mendes stays at the helm. "Skyfall" is easily one of the most fun and exciting movies of the year.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars.