My expectations for the new 007, as I suspect many others share, come after loving Casino Royale and forgetting Quantum of Solace; so this relatively new Bond still had a lot to live up to and prove. If you hadn’t yet heard from other reviews… he certainly does.
Two minutes in and we’re on hot pursuit, engaged in a motorcycle chase atop the roofs of an Istanbul town. Four minutes in and he’s commandeering a crane, whilst riding a train (it’s totally insane), still closing in on this unlucky assassin. Finally, M tells Bond’s sniper partner to take a shot from the cliffs. She narrowly misses the target which sends Bond plummeting hundreds of feet down to his apparent death in the river below. SKYFALL! It wasn’t quite Mission Impossible‘s train sequence, but it wasn’t trying to be that kind of thing either.
Spoiler Alert: Bond’s not dead. He’s just taking a few months off to drink tequila with scorpions and befriend a generic exotic woman. Yet he somehow hates this care-free life, as a man lost without cause, until Wolf Blitzer broadcasts a new threat into his life… MI6 has been attacked! So Jimmy returns home, drops some characteristic innuendo on the beautiful partner who nearly killed him, pulls a few bullet shards out of his shoulder, and even rocks the beard for a few more scenes. Back on the unfinished case.
That poor unfortunate assassin meets his maker atop a skyscraper in Shanghai and wow… that city has some flash. About an hour in, still no real villain has been presented, then Javier Bordem enters and starts chewing it up as Mr. Silva. I honestly had no idea he was in this, what cool surprise! Was he even in the trailer? Nevertheless it looked like a very fun part to play. Thankfully, the great threat to our world this time was something a little more devious than expensive water… or whatever Quantum was about… but he was still a classic staple of the spy genre. Done so well, I didn’t mind at all, but then his ulterior motives were revealed and the story elevates to something greater. The spoilers will end here, as the second half of the film has some major developments that will change the course of the Bond series from this movie henceforth… this is not just another installment of everyone’s favorite superhero-in-a-tuxedo franchise.
As grand a scope as the film encompasses, some of the writing is cleverly minimalist; a clear throwback to the Bonds of old. I won’t pretend to have seen the entire Bond series, probably not even half, but I’ve caught enough to know that these are not the same films that Connery and Moore used to tear it up in each Thanksgiving. Every time another installment comes out, it always begs the question from someone around you, “Is so-and-so the best man to play James Bond yet?”. Kind of an arbitrary thing to ask, in my not-so-humble opinion. Old School and Modern. Analog VS Digital. Some people prefer Mario 3, some prefer Galaxy. As Skyfall progresses it shoots for both then and now, surprisingly doing a pretty good job of appeasing each side.
Will Daniel Craig don the tux again? I hope so. While I slightly prefer Casino Royale simply because of subject matter, Skyfall is the best entry this series (and genre) has had in a long time. One final title card at the end vaguely assures us that there will be more to come… let’s hope so.
UPDATE: Half a billion dollars in a week? Yeah, I think we’ll get at least one more.