James Bond films, in their 50th year and with ‘Skyfall’ being their 23rd film, are currently the longest running franchise in the history of cinema. With Academy-award winning director Sam Mendes helming the project, ‘Skyfall’ has been touted to be the game changer as far as espionage thrillers are concerned. In the film, Agent 007 returns to protect the MI6 head, M, from one of her adversaries.
The screenplay of the film is immensely engaging. There’s not much beating around the bush and the plot stays to the point till the end. Daniel Craig has delivered his best performance as James Bond, while Judi Dench, whose character M is way more significant than it has been in the other films of recent times, does a brilliant job. Javier Bardem cuts across as one of the most menacing Bond villains. The opening chase sequence, shot in Turkey, pulls up the curtains for an entertaining two hours ahead. The opening credits, voiced by Adele and comprising ethereal signature ‘Bond’ visuals, also wonderfully shape the start of the film. The film, albeit more of an action-thriller rather than a typical Bond affair, is a refreshing take on James Bond films and will certainly be liked by audiences all over.
MI6 agents, James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Eve (Naomie Harris), who are on a mission in Turkey to recover a stolen computer hard drive comprising details of all undercover NATO agents in terrorist organizations, fail to nab the criminal Patrice (Ola Rapace), a French mercenary. On the chase, Bond is shot in the shoulder and during his altercation with Patrice, is accidentally hit by Eve and is considered “missing, presumed killed”.
MI6, meanwhile, gets attacked by a terrorist organization. The security systems of the organization get hacked and an explosion at the offices kills a number of employees. Bond, who has been using death to take a break from his usual services, returns to London to get back on duty.
Upon learning about Patrice’s location, he flies to Shanghai where he kills him, and another clue takes him to Macau. Here Bond meets Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe).
What Bond thought would end up as a short-lived romantic liaison, turns out to be his own abduction. The gorgeous Sévérine is an employee of Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent, now M’s principal nemesis. The war is pretty much declared as Silva, playing the eccentric villain, can go to any extent to get M, and now his newfound foe, Bond.
The screenplay of the film deserves a lot of accolades. The film revolves around M, Bond and Silva, and it stays that way. Although there are important characters on the side lines, such as Ralph Fiennes’ Gareth Mallory, Naomie’s Eve and Ben Whishaw’s Q, the story belongs to the three principal characters.
Bardem is a maverick, who hides the horrors of his past behind his fake smile. He cuts across as an excellent villain in the film. Although, you look at him as the antagonist, your heart does go out to him when you learn about his painful past. The character of Raoul Silva stays with you long after the film gets over.
Daniel Craig gives, by far, his best performance as Agent 007. Although he opts to stay as understated as he was in the previous two films, the character has notched up some wit and upped the action quotient as well. Judi Dench, with a remarkably long role in the film, does a fine job.
‘Skyfall’ does not follow the typical Bond films’ route. Although it’s as action-packed as its predecessors, the story assumes equal importance. Logical conclusions be damned, this film keeps you gripped not just for its ‘action’, ‘gadgets’, ‘bond girls’ etc., but the ‘plot’ and ‘performances’ as well. Sam Mendes has made a fine Bond film and this will, hopefully, set the precedent for all future ‘action-thrillers’. Writers, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, deliver a fairly taut story. The visuals are augmented, thanks to brilliant cinematography (Roger Deakins) and production designs (Dennis Gassner).
The film has its thrills, here and there. The finale, although not as spectacular as the beginning, has a big, big twist. Watch the film to find out.
Sam Mendes’ stupendous direction puts substance into what was everlastingly stylish, ‘BOND’!