The James Bond franchise lives on 50 years after it first came to light for one simple reason: it perfectly encapsulates every man’s wet dream. Think about it; fast cars, stylish clothes, high-tech gadgets, exotic travelling, stunning babes, not to mention the fact that Bond is the luckiest gambler to ever grace the planet. He also lives on the edge, knows how to hold his liquor and is a complete utter bad ass when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. His charm, looks and womanizing skills are just the icing on the cake. Most guys will settle for one or two of the Bond traits, but to have it all, let’s face it, that’s the male population’s communal dream right there.
This franchise is the picture-perfect exemplar of pure old-fashioned movie escapism and has sunk itself into popular culture like no other. Describing a member of the womenfolk as a ‘Bond girl’, for example, is perhaps the shortest way of saying she has the body of a model, the face of a Goddess, and the attitude of tamed beast.
Fans have debated endlessly about several aspects within the franchise. Who makes the best Bond? The hottest Bond girl? The nastiest villain? What’s the most memorable Bond song? The Aston Martin that beats them all? Skyfall would make a legitimate answer to all of those questions and for that very reason, it is arguably the best Bond film ever made.
I personally think Goldfinger features the best Bond performance with Sean Connery taking suit. The high-stakes poker game in Casino Royale is without a doubt the best Bond scene of all time. It didn’t rely on any stunts, car chases or explosions just pure simplistic suspense. It was very clever to have the key scene be composed of nerve-rackingly lengthy shots of both hero and villain in a poker game where 10 million dollars to a terrorist organization is at stake. That said, Daniel Craig’s mature performance here displays an ageing James Bond in perhaps the greatest espionage entry in the series.
With arguably the world’s best cinematographer, Roger Deakins, behind the camera, Skyfall is without a doubt the most breathtakingly shot Bond film I’ve ever seen. This is the proper Bond film fanatics have been waiting for after the brilliant Casino Royale. We all know the disappointment that followed and the probable cause behind it, too. Prior to Quantum of Solace, the producers most likely saw The Bourne Ultimatum winning more Academy Awards in a single night than the entire Bond franchise ever has. They tried to emulate that success, but foolishly attributed Bourne’s accomplishments to its shaky-cam style of photography. When I watched the cheap rip-off that is Quantum of Solace, I couldn’t help but imagine James Bond barging into a room full of writers as they worked on the shooting script. “I want my camera shaken not stirred.” Boy, was that a mistake.
Anyway, a lesson was learnt and Sam Mendes wisely drew inspiration from what many consider one of the greatest sequels of all time, The Dark Knight. This was a very logical choice seeing thatCasino Royale is thematically similar to Batman Begins. In both revitalized origin films, Batman and Bond slowly transform into the fictional legends we know by heart. Following in Christopher Nolan’s steps makes perfect sense.
Like The Dark Knight, Mendes uses an alternate universe to explore relevant contemporary issues such as cyber terrorism and the dark side of social networking in Skyfall. I couldn’t help but see a little of hacker-activist Julian Assange and what he did with Wikileaks in Javier Bardem’s ruthless portrayal of Silva, an ex MI6 agent leaking secret information to the public. Bardem’s homoerotic villain is one you will love to hate. It’s quite genius really, having a man inappropriately running his fingers against our role model’s bare skin is truly the biggest threat to that wet dream of ours.
Mendes also takes away the super in superspy the same way Nolan took out the super in superhero. By humanizing James Bond, everything suddenly becomes more threatening and in return more suspenseful. We learn of Bond’s childhood and how he was recruited. The film even digs deep into his relationship with M played marvelously by Judi Dench in a film that could very well be called an M film as much as it’s a Bond film. For those of you who don’t know, Sam Mendes is the Academy Award-winning director of American Beauty, Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road; what he did with Skyfall is nothing short of extraordinary.
The film wastes no time and sets everything on high gear from the get-go. It opens with a very impressive chase scene that climaxes in perhaps the most unforgettable moment in Bond history. To spoil it would only hurt the chances of enjoying that unexpected slap in the face. I noticed I’m almost 700 words into my review and have yet to say anything about the actual plot, or perhaps I’ve said enough to hustle you off to the next showing. Some things are best left unsaid and to reveal anything about this complete revival of the Bond franchise would only ruin the experience for you. Skyfall is original, genuine, classy and elegantly perfect. And that’s all you need to know.