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Marcus Reviews Skyfall

10 Nov

Synopsis:

In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

What I Liked:

Skyfall has quite possibly the most thrilling opening act of 2012. From the very start to the opening credits it has you completely immersed. I knew that from this moment on I was in store for one hell of a movie.

Speaking of the opening credits, Skyfall may very well have the most visually arresting intro that they’ve ever had. Combined with Adele’s excellent song it truly captured the classic Bond feel will also keeping it very modern.

Sam Mendes’ direction in this is masterclass. One of the biggest issues with the more modern Bond films (both Brosnan & Craig) is that they lacked poise and focused more on the spectacle. While there is still plenty of brilliant spectacle in Skyfall, Mendes also brings back the meditative, slow burn nature of some of the older films and because of this the film flows much more smoothly. His substance over style brand of direction really comes across with the moments of dialogue as in several scenes he just leaves the camera in one position without any needless angle changes or editing and just lets the actors shine. Mendes turned this Bond film into a quiet storm as opposed to the raging tornado that most of the previous films have been.

Ever since Casino Royale the main criticism that people have given Craig’s Bond is that, while he had the grittiness of Bond from the novels, he never quite nailed the classic smoothness that he was known for. He was very rough around the edges (though I think it’s more due to the material he was given). Taking that all into account, Skyfall signals the first time in his run as Bond where he finally put all of the pieces together and truly embodied the character (possibly even better than Connery) which I can’t help but think is thanks to the fact that he’s no longer weighed down by a love interest. He wasn’t overly gritty like he was in Quantum of Solace while at the same time he wasn’t overly stylistic either like Brosnan’s Bond was. He was still intense/gritty but he was also suave, witty and precise. For the first time in the modern era, I felt like I was watching the REAL James Bond.

To piggyback off of my praise of Craig, Skyfall features arguably the best ensemble acting in a Bond movie since the Connery era. Everybody on the cast had electric chemistry with one another and really shined in their own individual performances. Whether it was the veteran Dame Judi Dench as the classy yet staunch M or newcomers like Naomie Harris as the feisty Eve and Ben Whishaw as the young tech prodigy Q, everyone did great. The star that shined brightest though was a platinum blonde Javier Bardem as the film’s villain, Raoul Silva. If there’s one major thing that Bond films have been severely lacking ever since Goldeneye, it’s a memorable villain and Bardem makes up for that lack and then some in this role as he chewed up the scenery every time he appeared on screen. I don’t want to delve to far into what made his character so special (so that I don’t spoil the movie for anyone) but he had this boyish innocence and effortless charm to him that made him almost as endearing as he was completely unsettling. If I were to describe him to someone I’d say he was like a sick mixture of Heath Ledger’s Joker, Hannibal Lector, Hans Landa from Inglorious Bastards and Tom Hardy’s Bane. Due to the character of James Bond being a force of nature in his own right often times the villain becomes obsolete, but in this particular instance Bond finally had a villain that matched him in every way and it was a joy to behold.

After two overly serious Bond films, the dry and witty humor that the franchise is known for makes its return and it was sorely missed.

James Bond movies have always been known for being striking on a cinematic level but they have never been THIS gorgeous. The cinematography in this movie was absolutely stunning and there were several breathtaking moments of stillness that I found myself completely lost in. Another credit to Mendes’ bravura direction as well as Roger Deakins.

The action set pieces & fight choreography in this were top notch and thankfully there was no use of shaky cam or shoddy editing to obscure the scenes.

Thomas Newman’s score was just as powerful and sweeping as the massive landscapes and intense action that inhabited Skyfall. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he got an Oscar nod for this because it’s truly amazing stuff.

If you’re a fan of the Bond franchise as a whole then you will find great delight in the nods, jabs and homages that this film sends to the older Bond films. Some are blatant and some are very subtle but they’re all brilliantly done.

What I Didn’t Like:

While I understand that she was used to help set up the Silva’s debut into the film, Severine (played by French actress Bérénice Lim Marlohe) ultimately felt expendable and by the time the movie had reached the final act I’d practically forgot that she was even in it at all.

Overall:

As we come upon the 50th anniversary of the granddaddy of all spy media, Skyfall presents the questions of whether or not spies are redundant in this day and age and more importantly if James Bond is still capable of getting the job done after all this time. Skyfall is a story of revenge, resurrection & redemption that wisely doesn’t simply focus on Bond himself but also those who are immersed in and have been effected by his line of work. It’s a movie that ponders whether or not both the Bond character and the franchise itself should hang it up ride off  and into the sunset with it’s legacy still intact. With the stakes this high Skyfall had no choice but to rise to the occasion and thanks to Sam Mendes’ brilliant direction, amazing ensemble acting, breathtaking cinematography, powerful scoring and truly dynamic action, it did that and then some. Skyfall is a a cinematic tour de force that not only redeems James Bond the character but also reinvigorates the franchise by taking a few cues from the past. Please do yourself a favor, grab some friends and go see this immediately.

Rating: A