Film Review: ‘James Bond: Skyfall’

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw

Originally Released in October 2012

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Skyfall is Daniel Craig’s third film as the titular James Bond. Recovering from being shot a physically weaker Bond must confront his own history in order to protect M (Judi Dench) from her past. The unhinged yet powerful Silva (Javier Bardem) is hell bent on revealing M’s secrets regardless of who is hurt in the process. Meanwhile the internal hierarchy of MI6 is under threat. With the arrival of Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) and an investigation into M’s decision making will the organisation ever be the same again?

Staring with a cold opening, Skyfall jumps straight into the action which includes Bond chasing an assailant on a motorbike across rooftops with Agent Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) running support at ground level. This entire sequence is everything we’ve come to expect from this current iteration of Bond – energetic and intense – and it is a great way to get audiences excited about the rest of the film.

I love that Judi Dench was given such an important role in this film. While Skyfall is a James Bond film it is in essence M’s story. The character is such an integral part of this film with many of the key events either focussing on her or triggered by her actions. It was also great to see Dench involved in some of Skyfall’s main actions scenes as up until this point she’s mainly been restricted to office or interrogation settings.

While there are plenty of actions scenes, high speed pursuits, and secret twists and turns to enjoy, Skyfall also unexpectedly yet wonderfully gives a lot of time to the emotion and the bonds between characters. This led to some beautifully heartfelt moments, particularly between Bond and M.

Originally cast members Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are fantastic throughout the film but Skyfall also introduces audiences to several new characters and cast members.

Ralph Fiennes plays the sharp suited Mallory who is placed in political opposition with M. The audience, like the characters, are never quite sure whether Mallory can be trusted or not until the end of the film.

Naomie Harris is revealed to be Eve Moneypenny, an agent for MI6 who joins Bond in the field. Unlike previous versions of Moneypenny, Harris’ version of the character is shown to be resistant to Bond’s charms. A physically and mentally strong female character, it was great to see someone other than M hold their own in a battle of wits against Bond.

Ben Whishaw joins the cast as the newest onscreen iteration of Q. Q and his team are responsible for all the technology and gadgets used by MI6. A part so far only placed by older male actors, the film playfully acknowledges Whishaw’s youthful appearance through Bond’s initial disbelief that a man half his age is responsible for an MI6 department. Q quickly proves Bond wrong by using his intelligence and cunning to help lead antagonist Silva into a trap.

Compared to the previous villains of Le Chiffre, Mr White and Dominic Greene it is Skyfall’s and Bardem’s Raoul Silva who feels like the biggest and most genuine threat to Bond, M and MI6. Silva’s revenge plotline gives the audience more insight than ever before into M’s history and the murky past of some of MI6’s operations. Proving his excellence for playing disturbed and disturbing villains wasn’t a one off (see Bardem’s performance in No Country For Old Men) no one can argue that Bardem creates a truly memorable antagonist in Silva.

I can’t end this review without mentioning the opening title credits and Adele’s powerful yet haunting song Skyfall. A number one hit before the film was even released, the song both foreshadows events in the film and sets a high bar for future opening songs to match.

A solidly strong entry into the 007 franchise, Skyfall is both action-packed and emotionally charged. Skyfall’s story works well as both a standalone film and as a continuation of the over-arching narrative that connects Craig’s era of Bond.

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