REVIEW: SKYFALL (2012)

Oscar Winning British Director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty) takes the reigns of cinema’s most enduring franchise and brings a gang of Oscar winning (and nominated) pedigree to assist: Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Roger Deakins (Cinematographer), Thomas Newman (Composer) who all join Daniel Craig’s James Bond in this supremely cracking entry to the Bond canon.

A list of every undercover MI6 agent gets in the hands of a mysterious and dangerous rogue spy, (Javier Bardem) somehow connected to ‘M’ (Dame Judi Dench). Only 007 stands in his way.

Mendes is a steadier hand, converse to the aesthetic of ‘shaky-cam’ Bourne series. The action is frenetic but his camera is stable and with the assured camera operation and cinematography from Roger Deakins pairs the iconography with the grandeur. Instead of fleeting moments of outrageous unbelievably present in the pre-Craig Bond series – there are sublimely beautiful compositions – especially hand to hand combat in a scene set in a Shanghai Tower, backlit by the technicolour city lights.  Producer Barbara Brocolli used her henchman Neil Purvis & Robert Wade (The World is Not Enough, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace) to build the Bond structure but it’s the rewrite from John Logan (Noah, Any Given Sunday, Rango) that finessed and  relish that espionage has come full circle. It’s no longer caches of sophisticated gadgetry; it’s old fashioned concealment and aversion to all those devises that aren’t ‘tracked’.

Craig delivers his best Bond interpretation yet in SKYFALL. He’s built his own very assured Bond charm that balances the dark intensity (womanising and substance abuse) inspired by Ian Fleming’s literary version of the character. SKYFALL’s Bond doesn’t escape unscathed. Craig gets to explore the character’s tenacity and will to keep going after being hit. Bardem plays Silva as an agent off the reservation and out of his mind. He’s a flamboyant technological genius that feels like a Bond universe incarnation of the Joker (Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight) instead of the mesmerising and terrifying physical presence of Anton Chiggur (No Country For Old Men). While not as powerful as those characters/performances (and how could he be) morphs the suave villain with physical grotesque of the more iconic Bond villains (‘Red Grant’ [Robert Shaw – From Russia with Love] & ‘Blofeld’ [Donald Pleasance – You Only Live Twice]. And despite solid performances from the rest if the support cast (Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Dame Judi Dench and Albert Finney) it’s Ben Wishaw’s Q that manages to steal every scene he’s in.

SKYFALL has everything you love about Bond from yesteryear; and infuses the modern elements that resuscitated the character.

Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here.

If you can, see it in exquisite 4K.

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Written by: Neil Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan

Starring: Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Albert Finney