"Skyfall" Revisited

"Skyfall" was one of the first films I reviewed. Being such, it's also quite a mess of a review...I'll link it here to make it easier on your prying minds. It's interesting to look back on my own words and see how well I BS-ed that review. I knew nothing, nothing about the series besides the occasional reference to martinis and the infamous way that Bond delivers his name to those who asked. Still, I did a little bit of research and talked to a few people and hey—that's what you got.
Having now been through all 23 (or 25 if we're counting the un-official movies) Bond films, I can testify that "Skyfall" stands above the rest, head and shoulders. It assembles a fantastic cast and a great director. Working with a wonderful script, the film works as a stand-alone movie and it incorporates the world of Bond into itself seamlessly.
After the movie's prologue which cements the fate of the rest of the picture, Bond is left thought to be dead and M has to pick up the pieces from a huge breach in security. A hard drive with the real names of NATO operatives has been compromised and lies now in the hands of an unpleasant source—one unknown, living in the shadows.
Perfectly happy living in retirement on a beach in the middle of a paradise, Bond is oblivious to the stresses mounting on M's shoulders. From "GoldenEye" when Judi Dench first took the reigns of M, the films have been giving her more and more screen time, sometimes to the chagrin of critics as exemplified in "Quantum of Solace" which had Bond as a musing, silent agent and M and a chatty and relatable head of security—it worked for me, but not for everyone.
A man named Gareth Mallory steps in to oversee the forced retirement of M. His presence isn't exactly welcomed with open arms. Driven to finish the job before she is ousted, M is tested by a series of cyber attacks that end with the line: Think on your sins. These cutesy little messages that pop up on computers and in MI6's network are quite chilling...their aftermath even more so.
A portion of MI6 blows up, sending a handful of people to their graves and sending Bond back to London to help out with the resulting chaos. M places Bond on the case to see if he can find whoever is targeting the agents in the field, MI6 and M herself.
Shaken but not stirred by traumas from the past, Bond must push himself harder than ever to catch this baddie.
Much of the Bond franchise feels like it has a license to over-kill; but not this one. The action is perfectly explosive, the characters are given their due amount of time, and Bond doesn't have to sleep with every single female character with the all the boyish pleasure of collecting baseball cards. "Skyfall" captures the laissez-faire  attitude of the Roger Moore movies, the sexual provocativeness of the Connery flicks, the urgency of the Dalton films, the emotion of the sole Lazenby picture, and the action of Pierce Brosnan's time. But this movie belongs to Daniel Craig and no one can take that from him. Still, as much as its him, it is also Javier Bardem's because this where we finally have a villain that gives Bond the best chance of losing.
Bardem is flawless in the movie and many people were surprised to see his turn go unloved at the Oscars...myself included. Bardem is the best villain in the franchise and also gives the best performance of the series.
Sam Mendes has never really made a flop, but "Skyfall" is by far his biggest hit. He jumps the gap from drama to action as easily as he bridged the divide between theater and film.
A series that has as many entries as the "Bond" franchise does was bound to make a masterful film eventually and "Skyfall" proves just that. It's shot by the legendary Roger Deakins which explains why the film looks so good. Pulling out all the stops and hiring Thomas Newman, Ralph Fiennes, and Adele at the peak of her fame, "Skyfall" remains a sure-success...and what an exciting one it is at that!

Score: ★★★★

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