When one is reviewing the latest instalment of the world’s longest running and most profitable film franchise, taking the movie on its own merit isn’t entirely fair. James Bond first hit the big screen back in 1962 and since then there have been 23 official Bond films. The world has changed a hell of a lot in that time and Eon productions have always tried to keep up, albeit with varying levels of success.
Personally I found the 1962-1973 (Dr No-Live And Let Die) era the most captivating. These were the years the foundations were laid. The formula was constructed in these years and this formula carried on right up to 2002’s farcical Die Another Day.
Aesthetically these early movies ranged from glamorous to psychedelic to funky as hell to downright dark. Music, set design, locations and even things like the famous gun barrel sequence all set Bond films apart from everything else. They aren’t just action films. They are a genre of their own. A James Bond film is a James Bond film.
The 2006 reboot, Casino Royale, was a fresh start. Daniel Craig was filling the presumably expensive and rather small shoes of Pierce Brosnan. It was the only Ian Fleming novel which hadn’t been made into an official James Bond film and after the disaster that was Die Another Day the franchise needed new life pumped into it. Casino Royale delivered. Craig fit the role extremely well with many fans instantly warming to him. Casino Royale’s sequel, Quantum Of Solace, although not seeming as fresh as its predecessor was interesting in the fact that it introduced Quantum, the 21st centuries answer to (evil organisation) SPECTRE. It is also the only Bond film I can remember to that point where he leaves the villain to die rather than kill him himself. Bond also doesn’t get laid at the end of the film; instead he has a D&M with his dead lover’s ex-boyfriend. Imagine Roger Moore doing that…
Anyway to Skyfall: Without giving too much away it starts with Bond getting ‘killed’ but really he’s ok. He’s just been drinking beer for ages with some chick in a tropical paradise. Anyway MI6 get attacked by terrorist hackers who have a list of NATO spies who have been planted in terrorist organisations. Bond ends up in Shanghai which looks really spectacular and made me want to go there then he travels to Macau where he goes to a Casino (as you do if you are James Bond/in Macau) and he meets the villain’s girl. Bond gives her the obligatory seeing to on a nice boat while they sail to the villains lair (which is definitely in my top five Bond villain lairs of all time). He meets the bisexual, bleach blond villain (Javier Bardem) and they have a bit of a chat, the villain proves himself to be an evil sadistic fuck with fantastic taste in single malt and yada yada yada other shit goes down but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
Bardem as Raoul Silva is extremely creepy and a classic Bond villain. He reminded me of what you would get if you mixed Moonraker baddie Hugo Drax with Hannibal Lecter. I knew when they announced that Javier Bardem was going to play the villain it was going to be a good film, he might have even stolen the show if it wasn’t for Daniel Craig.
Daniel Craig and Judi Dench were great. Daniel Craig was a lot less pouty in this film than he has been in the past, which is refreshing. Judi Dench is the leading lady in the film and, as ever, does her job perfectly. Ben Wishaw as Q was fantastic too. A really interesting take on a role played for so long by an old man. Wishaw is the hipster geek Q which I suppose is what Q would be if he existed in real life.
Adele’s theme song for me is another major highlight. She was born to do a Bond song and I hope to god she gets to do another one. The graphics in the title sequence aren’t as good as they have been in the past but considering the sheer quality of the film complaining about such a minor gripe seems pretty silly.
Basically, I have been watching James Bond movies for most of my life. I have seen most of them over a thousand times. Obviously some are better than others, some are more significant to the franchise than others and some are more symbolic of the times than others. Skyfall is better than all the others so far. It represents a new beginning on the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film coming out. Skyfall makes me confident in saying that in 50 years from now they will still be making Bond films. Aesthetically Skyfall is next level. Such a beautiful film to look at. The sets are imposing, the locations are absolutely stunning.
What really makes this film though is it is far more plot orientated than any other film in the history of the franchise. Skyfall is the first James Bond film where we actually start to understand who our hero actually is. This film has rendered almost every other Bond film, or dare I say action film, obsolete thanks to its honesty, significance and sophistication. It’s perfect.
It’s taken 50 years to get to know James Bond and you know what? I think I’m starting to like him.