Simon Dillon reviews the latest Bond film
Best Bond ever? No, but it's almost certainly the best looking, and whilst it's impossible to judge after just one viewing, it's safe to say Skyfall has earned a place amongst the premium Bonds.
Daniel Craig is now firmly established as the best Bond since Sean Connery. His take is arguably the closest yet to Fleming's original, and I particularly liked the way he managed to deliver the one-liners without ever recalling Roger Moore or even Connery. Instead, he absolutely owns the character in his own right.
The rest of the cast is an embarrassment of riches - particularly with Judi Dench centre stage as M. Ben Whishaw as a young Q proves a fine addition, Ralph Fiennes turns up as an initially dislikable bureaucrat who may have hidden depths, Albert Finney pops up near the end in a role I won't spoil, and Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris provide fine support in their traditional bad/good Bond girl roles, although in the case of Harris, there's a little more to it than that.
By far the most memorable new character is uber-scary villain Silva (Javier Bardem), whose hair is as terrifying here as it was in No Country for Old Men. There are no Odd Job-style henchmen in this film, nor are any needed. Silva will immediately take his place alongside Auric Goldfinger and Ernst Blofeld as among the crème de-la crème of Bond villainy.
The Wikileaks with Oedipal overtones plot is both respectful of classic Bond, yet also explores areas as yet unseen in the franchise. Screenwriters Robert Wade, Neal Purvis and newcomer John Logan have ensured beloved characters are given fresh and surprising motivations, whilst director Sam Mendes proves his versatility by succeeding in crafting a first-rate action thriller. The set-pieces are spectacular, yet for me the great hero of Skyfall is legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. As I said earlier, I can't recall a better looking Bond film. The visual journey taken throughout - from the high-tech opening to the dark, pseudo-gothic, low-tech finale - is hugely memorable and makes great use of locations (not just Shanghai and Macau, but also London and the Scottish countryside).
There are other fine contributions in everything from editing (the great Stuart Baird, along with Kate Baird) to the music (Thomas Newman - not quite John Barry, but a fine take on his style). Ever since I first heard Set Fire to the Rain, I have thought Adele should sing a Bond title song, and her Bassey-esque contribution here is also very welcome.
In short, it's an exciting, occasionally funny and emotionally satisfying Bond, with plenty to enjoy. There are some nits to pick. Call me stuffy and traditional but I just don't think f-bombs should be dropped in a Bond film. Nor do I care for this new trend of putting the gun barrel at the end instead of the beginning. Additionally there are some plot elements that don't quite add up, but all of these are things that can be disregarded given what the film gets right. It remains to be seen how well this will hold up to additional viewings, and on points I still prefer Casino Royale, but I would nevertheless recommend Skyfall as a thoroughly entertaining night at the cinema.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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