So the rumours really are true; James Bond is back on superb form. Skyfall really comes across like a Bond film of old; it has a classic feel to it that’s really endearing, and yet it still feels strikingly fresh and original. The cast is excellent; with Daniel Craig being at his best yet, Javier Bardem is as good a villain as I had hoped as he alternates between being camp and menacing with ease, and then Judi Dench, who is always fantastic in the series, now gives us her absolute best performance as M. As for the supporting cast; Naomi Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, and Ralph Fiennes are all very good in their respective roles, and Ben Whishaw does a great job of taking over the legendary role ‘Q’, it will however take a couple more films for me to really adjust to the changed dynamic between him and Bond. Something that I hadn’t really picked up from the trailers was just how beautifully shot this film is; there were multiple moments that were extremely noteworthy, and Skyfall is consistently presented with both great style and a richness in colour that I wasn’t expecting from a Bond film. There are however a couple of lines of dialogue which jar a little, with it occasionally seeming as if they were setting their sights on the theatrical, without considering a sense of realism – but then again it’s a James Bond film, I can forgive it for that.
The whole film is underscored by a great sense of humour, with the fun having been brought back from the original series, so much so that until now I hadn’t realised just quite how serious the previous two have been, particularly Quantum of Solace. But don’t worry, Skyfall never feels cartoonish or as if it’s played just for laughs, but instead strikes a great balance between its humorous and then more serious moments. It also manages to inject a sense of jeopardy into the mix which is very welcome, and the action scenes naturally benefit from this addition. Also the merciless quick-fire editing that plagued Quantum of Solace’s action scenes is gone, and instead we are back in a position where we can actually appreciate what’s happening and enjoy it.
Skyfall pays homage to the series infinitely better than Die Another Day did, and even though there are a couple of slightly weakly executed references, they’re always fun and generally very well handled. It also achieves that difficult task of providing lots for a Bond fan to notice and enjoy, without sacrificing neither overall quality, nor the comprehension of more casual Bond fans. More generally speaking there are the occasional scenes which feel somewhat disconnected to the rest of the film, but they are few and far between and don’t really harm Skyfall. There are several little niggling criticisms that I have with the film, and yet in the wider picture they don’t amount to all that much.
In case it’s not already clear; I absolutely recommend that you go and see this one, in fact the sooner the better. If you were unsure about going after having seen Quantum – take it from me, this one is in a completely different league. It probably helped that I saw this in a small packed theatre on the first available showing, but there’s a real sense of occasion to Skyfall. It really captures the celebratory feeling that it aimed for, and consequently the very appreciative crowd that I sat with cheered, clapped, and then was silent in all the right places, making this one of the more unforgettable cinematic experience that I’ve had. I’m not saying it’s a perfect Bond film, but it certainly up there with the best of them.