November 13, 2012
"Casino Royale" established a new kind of James Bond in Daniel Craig and his gruff and rough portrayal of the usually cool and suave Bond. "Skyfall" continues to mine this new James Bond persona, as we actually see a James Bond emotional enough to shed tears. This was not really the James Bond we knew before. I am getting ahead of myself.
The title "Skyfall" refers to the old Bond estate in the Scottish highlands where James' parents Andrew and Monique Bond were buried. This estate was the site where the climactic booby trap and shotgun battle between Bond and the bad guys took place.
The plot of this movie started from a stolen list of MI6 agents which devolved into a story of revenge of Silva (Javier Bardem in another crazy eccentric character reminiscent of his "No Country for Old Men" performance), also a former MI6 agent, who wants to kill M (Judi Dench) for betraying him in the past. The ever loyal Bond, of course, does all he can to save his boss, despite being betrayed himself.
Despite the very basic plot, the good thing about this Bond movie is the breathtaking cinematography by Roger Deakins. All those imaginative camera angles and brilliant colors make all the scenes come alive right out of the screen. I echo other critics in finding this probably the best shot of all the James Bond films. Having Oscar winning director Sam Mendes at the helm, the dramatic trajectory of the story is built up perfectly. As the 50th anniversary presentation of this spy franchise, various homages to Bond lore abound throughout the film, from the classic theme song to the classic Aston Martin.
I felt the simple revenge story line was stretched too long for comfort by maybe an hour. The entire Macau scenes, including the Komodo dragons and Bond girl Severine, could have been excised without really affecting the basic story. However, the amazing cinematography highlighting the best of the exotic locales, the editing of the fantastic action sequences involving trains and the evocative dramatic performances of Daniel Craig and Judi Dench make this still a compelling Bond movie overall. But no, as I mentioned earlier in this article, Craig's Bond really is not the James Bond we knew before.