I have just come home from the premiere of Skyfall (Thank you Sony and AXN for the invitation!).
Well, it’s official as far as I am concerned…this is the best 007 film, period.
After the disaster that was Quantum of Solace, we can all be forgiven for setting our expectations a bit lower, but any which way one looks at it, Sam Mendes has just gone to the top of the Bond directors’ class. Mr. Mendes, I was ambivalent about American Beauty, but I loved Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road. I can’t wait to see what you will do next.
Much of the credit must go to the script, which once again is from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, but unlike the first two Craig films which were co-written by Paul Haggis (he of Crash and Million Dollar Baby fame), this one is co-written by John Logan, who has previously been Oscar-nominated for scripting Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and The Aviator and Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. One can see strong elements of Gladiator in Skyfall, especially the conflict between the ‘hero making a comeback’ and his seemingly more powerful adversary. But the real trick is the way the script injects bits of playfulness into the story without making the scenes campy (yes, I am referring to those Roger Moore films!). And some of the playfulness comes from the most surprising quarter…none other than Bond villain Silva, played masterfully by Javier Bardem (3 Oscar nominations and 1 win so far; I wish he would get one more for this performance). Never have I seen a Bond villain make Bond uncomfortable in quite the manner that Silva was able to do in this film…and to get a laugh out of the audience while doing it too! On the flip side, this Bond villain also seemed to have the most depth and once again, no praise can be too great for Bardem’s performance in a role which always carries a risk of going over the top.
French TV actress Berenice Marlohe makes a fantastic addition to the Bond line of femme fatales, while Naomie Harris shows a lot of spunk as an MI6 agent. But ultimately the strongest female showing continues to come from Dame Judi Dench as M, this time having to also deal with the politics of having a new boss.
The message consistently delivered throughout the film is that “old can still be gold” and will easily resonate with anyone who belongs to my generation. Even the new Q, played by a young Ben Whishaw, appears comfortably old-fashioned in his sweater and mussed hair.
The only disappointment was the theme song by Adele. It sounded a lot better when I listened to the leaked clip on the internet than it actually did during the opening credits. Tina Turner’s Goldeneye still tops my list when it comes to Bond songs.
Overall, an outstanding start to the Fall blockbuster season and I can’t wait to see how the box office for this movie plays out over the next couple of months.