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"Some men are coming to kill us. We're going to kill them first "

26th Feb 2013

Even being a huge James Bond fan I can't deny that I was hit by a bit of fatigue leading up to the film's release. Celebrating the franchises 50th anniversary it was hard to escape Daniel Craig's mug leaving me with the same desire of every Bond villain, to eradicate him from existence. Of course like them I was also doomed to fail and eventually dragged myself to the cinema but the question is was I a skyfool to do so?

Before we get into specifics of the film itself it's probably best to give my position on the current state of the franchise. I never had any problems with the movies leading up to their reboot in Casino Royale so I was a little apprehensive of the gritty new direction. Fortunately all was well and I actually found myself enjoying this take on the character more than anything that had been presented previously (Casino Royale remains in my top 5 Bond movies). Then came Quantum of Solace one of the worst movies in Bond history, while the tone was consistent with the first it failed to hold my interest. Even as a fan of Craig's take on Bond (I know there are many out there not to fond) Skyfall still had a lot to prove. Was Casino Royale a one off experience? Had the Prequel setting run its course?

Rather than trying to overcomplicate things (I'm still trying to unravel what Quantum were trying to achieve) Skyfall dials back on the espionage for a more simplistic take on things. After a botched mission (and rather thrilling it was) James finds himself inactive from duty and living a life of solitude. Unfortunately M and MI6 have become the targets of a madman who seems to have a link to the organisation. Bond is drawn back into duty but this time has to deal with his own mortality as his increasing age and rusty marksmanship conflict with the mission at hand.

In the above synopsis I've tried to be as vague as possible when it comes to the plot as it really is a pleasure to watch the way things unfold but unfortunately for those of us in the UK much of the story is diminished through the myriad of spoilers trounced out in various media outlets. Prior to the release not only were we subjected to major spoilers in TV spots and trailers but unannounced spoilers were leaked via tabloids and news reports (that's right the News) regarding character fates and revelations. Even with this prior knowledge the film is an absolute joy but if you have avoided them thus far the movie will be a richer experience.

Even with a few minor niggles this has to be one of the most enjoyable and engaging Bond movies ever committed to screen. While it manages to stay true to what makes a Bond film Bond Skyfall plays with the familiar troupes allowing for a completely fresh approach (far more so than even Royale pulled with its reimagining). Not only that but the movie actually makes the prequel setting far more relevant even with stepping away from known franchise clichés Skyfall entrenches Craig's Bond within the already established universe.

The script this time out also manages to make reference to the past 50 years without being overtly obnoxious as Die another day was with the 40th anniversary. The main story of Bond being a little over the hill is a perfect way of not only addressing the length of the franchise but also assuring us that Bond is still relevant in modern action cinema. We get a few more overt references to past outings (for your eyes only and the Astin Martin from Goldfinger) as well as some far more subtle ones weaved into the narrative (the mirror image secret agent who has his own island is very much The Man with the Golden Gun).

For me it's the final act that really is something special breaking away from what is convention. While it may raise a few sniggers as Bond pulls a home alone the sequence is far more personal for the character as we learn the true meaning of what Skyfall is and delve into the main characters back story more than we ever have before. Bond is no longer a fantasy figure for men to imprint onto but a well rounded character that it's far more interesting to watch.

While it is clear That this new rebooted universe is independent of all that preceded it (especially given the time period and modern tech) I've always found it hard to truly distance this edition from what came before because of one joining factor,Judi Dench. While I really enjoy her performance as M her presence really muddled what was essentially a fresh start tieing the franchise to the Brosnon era and muddling continuity. After Skyfall though I'm actually glad of her presence as she essentially takes up the place of the traditional Bond girl, It may not be all that sexy (aside from those of you who are into Gilfs) but it really does serve the plot to a greater degree.

While it's still Bonds show I like the fact that MI6 has been developed into something more than the place where missions are handed out. Not only does a large portion of the film take place in their HQ by the movies end it's populated by known characters (From M's assistant to Q) that not only give us a larger grasp of the organisation as a whole but other people to root and care for (the initial attack on MI6 while horrible never resonates as it should as the victims are faceless individuals). It's a far more interesting direction for further sequels to deal with.

Another factor that elevates Skyfall above the norm, the acting on display is truly impressive while Dench and Craig are impressive Bardem and Finnes more or less steal the show. Even with the limited screen time they get both first appear in cliché roles (Bureaucrat and villain) but eventually are revealed as multi layered creations elevating them above standard Bond fare.

I've mentioned that the plot isn't overly complex but is enhanced by some rather fabulous directing from Sam Mendes. One of the issues I had with Quantum of Solace was the shoddy handling of the action sequences relying to much on shaky cam and a style that mimics the Bourne films (Bond should be inspiring homage's not using them). Not only does Mendes pull back allowing us to take in the action but takes his time with the dialogue driven scenes allowing tension to build naturally rather than be a breathing period until the next action scene.

The music is atypical of any Bond outing which not only uses the main theme but takes ques from Adeles Skyfall opener (Personally I'm not a big fan of the song but it is more than appropriate given the tone and lyrics).You can't criticise something that has worked so well for so many years.

Skyfall for me is the pinnacle thus far of Craig's Bond (and perhaps the entire series) leaving a lot of the previous entries quite hollow experiences. For those out there that don't care for Daniel Craig and the more realistic approach Skyfall will do little to change your mind but for everyone else not only is Bond back but he's better than ever.

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director: Sam Mendes
Screenplay: Neal Purvis
Robert Wade
Starring:Daniel Craig
Judi Dench
Javier Bardem