Movie Review: “Skyfall” – Everything Falls Into Place

Written by Spencer Sterritt November 11, 2012

Skyfall Intro shot

It has been an interesting road to production for the new James Bond film “Skyfall.” After being mired in MGM’s bankruptcy it seemed like the film would not be made at all after production had stalled for so long. But the time spent away from shooting has given director Sam Mendes (“Road to Perdition” & “Jarhead”) and his writers more time to craft one of the best James Bond films ever.

“Let the skyfall, when it crumbles, we’ll stand tall”

Thankfully the many trailers for “Skyfall” have kept plot details to a minimum, providing flashes of content over context, so even if you’ve seen the trailers nearly a hundred times before the release you will still be surprised and captivated as the film unwinds. After stumbling into a mission gone wrong, and surviving a stray bullet from fellow MI6 agent Eve (Naomie Harris), Bond finds himself depressed, unfit, and facing a cyberterrorist named Silva (Javier Bardem). The plot twists itself into some interesting places, specifically as it gives us the greatest glimpses so far into the pasts of Bond and M (Judi Dench).

With Sam Mendes at the helm it was always assumed that “Skyfall” would delve deeper into the emotions of Bond, and find out what makes him tick. I don’t think it goes far enough, really only bringing up Bond’s history in the last third of the movie, but it’s more than we’ve ever gotten before, so I’ll take it. Focusing so much on M was definitely the right decision though, giving Judi Dench a chance to finally act in her role as M, which I feel has been underused in the previous six films.

Skyfall, M and Silva

Dench is at her best when facing off directly with Bond and Silva

Technically the film is wonderful across the board. Mendes has a sharp eye for both action and quiet scenes, giving “Skyfall” a flair that almost makes it seem like an art film at times, especially in how he composes the fight scenes, specifically one in a dark Shanghai office tower and in the final set piece. It is certainly the most beautiful Bond film yet with cinematographer Roger Deakins using every trick in the digital filmmakers handbook (which is all the more impressive since this is the first time he’s used digital. Bravo!). Every review of “Skyfall is rightly praising the look of the film,  and it is almost certain that “Skyfall” will at least be nominated in every technical category at the Oscar awards this year.

“England… Mi6… so old-fashioned!”

In case you were thinking that all of the digital filmmaking wizardry is over-compensating for an overall poor story, or poor acting, I can assure you it is not. Javier Bardem makes an indelible impression as Silva, a prance-y, foxy, and over-sexed agent of chaos. Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe make for vibrant Bond girls, though Berenice is given far too little to do.

Skyfall, Silva and Bond, Javier Bardem

He’s easily the most feminized villain in Bond history, which dredges up loads of problems about the film, but Bardem makes Silva cruel and fearless enough to still make him one of the best Bond villains ever

Daniel Craig deftly holds his own against Javier Bardem as they tangle throughout the movie, as two survivors of M, two rats. Even though this era’s James Bond hasn’t dealt with lasers being pointed at his crotch, space shuttles, or giant palaces of ice, Craig makes it seem like he has been through all of it, presenting a weary and depressed Bond we haven’t seen before. He’s a shark that’s starting to slow down, and you can see it in Craig’s eyes that he’ll give everything he can to keep swimming, even if it means pushing himself too far.

skyfall, England, Bond

Forever Alone

The only real stumbling block of the film is how it maintains the patriarchal status quo. The Craig era has been edgy and modern so far, but by the end of “Skyfall” all of the pieces have been put back in place to make it more like the 60’s, and all the misogyny that comes with it. Enough ink has already been written about Bond and feminist theory, so all I’ll say is that I had hoped Sam Mendes would shake up Bond enough that it fell more in line with a modern, equal view of genders. But alas, nothing can be perfect.

“Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled.”

For rabid Bond fans or casual spy lovers, “Skyfall” has everything. Under Sam Mendes’ direction the action manages to top all the Bonds that have come before it while providing resonating, real, intimate scenes that give every character a strong hook. All of the time in the writers room during the MGM fiscal crisis definitely paid off in “Skyfall,” making it the best Bond film since “Goldeneye,” and one of the best Bond films ever.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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