‘Skyfall’ Movie Review – No Country For The Dark Knight
“Madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push!” Quick, name that movie.
The James Bond franchise was in need of a reboot back in 2006 and delivered with the strong Casino Royale. Much like Royale, this year’s Skyfall succeeds because of Daniel Craig and a villain for the ages. Similarly, the movie isn’t afraid to go into darker places, departing from the formulaic feel of a lot of action movies.
Taking place an undisclosed time after the events of Quantum of Solace (the previous Bond film), the movie starts with James Bond (Craig) on a mission in Turkey. When the mission goes wrong, Bond is presumed dead. However, he can’t enjoy his time off too long, as the MI6 headquarters are destroyed by a sadistic terrorist. Without his help, he fears the people he cares the most about won’t make it out alive.
Who is behind the attack? Skyfall masks the main villain for the first half of the story. We’re left with cryptic clues about a begrudged computer genius who has something against MI6 and, more specifically, the commanding officer M (Judi Dench). The man behind the attacks, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), wants her to “think on her sins,” adding an emotional element to his cause.
His mission is to uncover what he believes is a corrupt system. Bond’s newest job, then, becomes getting back into fighting shape and taking Silva down. This task isn’t close to easy, though, as Silva presents Bond an intellectual challenge like no other.
When we finally do see Silva – doning some scraggly blonde hair – we’re introduced to one of the best Bond villains in a long time. One of Casino Royale’s strongsuits was their villain (Mads Mikkelsen), and this exceeds even that one. Bardem himself embodies the character in a way that shouldn’t be that surprising (look at his turn as Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men). I wonder if he has enough screentime to become a legitimate Academy Award contender because he certainly deserves it. His lack of screentime may be my only gripe.
One thing is for sure: it appears the worse Bardem’s hair looks, the better his performance.
Craig, too, continues to show why he was a magnificent choice as the iconic James Bond. If his first two movies weren’t enough, Skyfall should go a long way silencing the doubters. And, at this rate, he is on pace to become the best Bond we’ve ever had.
Thematically, Skyfall feels remarkably like my favorite movie of all-time: The Dark Knight. A few weeks ago, reports indicated that the film was, in fact, directly influenced by Christopher Nolan’s 2008 smash hit. Still, it was surprising just how similar they were…and in no way is this a bad thing.
Although the opening conflict (a battered Bond returning to help MI6) feels a lot more like The Dark Knight Rises, the second half of the movie reverts back to its predecessor. Especially when we get introduced to the Joker-esque Silva – there’s one shot of Silva’s silhouette walking away from a burning house that looks identical to Heath Ledger’s Joker walking away from a burning cash pile – the parallels become more obvious.
One thing Nolan brought to the Batman franchise was this idea of a grounded reality. Some Bond films have felt a bit over-the-top, but what spy movie doesn’t? Director Sam Mendes takes Bond back to his roots, following in Nolan’s footsteps. Instead of crazy, futuristic (and mostly unnecessary) gadgets, Bond feels like a more genuine spy. He relies on his charisma and brute force.
Even the cinematography feels very Nolan-y, especially the sweeping landscapes. Building on that, Skyfall does use its color palette significantly better than The Dark Knight. For an action film, it pays close attention to what colors are present, making it a beautifully looking story, too.
Sam Mendes’ James Bond action-thriller Skyfall may not just be the best movie of the year, it may be the best Bond movie ever made. This is saying a lot because it marks the 50th Anniversary of the suit-toting, martini-sipping, super-spy. Bond’s character, aided by Daniel Craig’s masterful craft, almost becomes second-rate to Javier Bardem’s turn as the psychotic, truly-terrifying villain that every action movie needs. Without a worthy opponent, the movie would be in danger of feeling cliché. Instead, we get a visually-stunning cat-and-mouse game that may be one of the most complete action films I’ve seen to date.
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