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It felt clear to me after CASINO ROYAL that Daniel Craig was the best version of James Bond I had ever seen. But that was just one movie, so it’s a bit of a bold statement to make. Well, now we’re three movies in, and Craig has never been a better BOND than in SKYFALL. So I’m calling it: Craig is my Bond.
SKYFALLis about the toll this job takes on a man. James Bond is a tired, hurt, broken man. The drinks and the women are coping mechanisms. But he is driven, and his loyalty is beyond question. It makes for a fascinating character to follow.
This entry is low on bombastic action. It opens with a terrific chase, a truly great set piece, and the title sequence is one of the best in the series (helped a great deal by Adele’s fantastic song). But once the movie gets started we are treated to something better then spectacle: great scenes. The dialogue in this movie is pitch perfect. Witty, badass, slick. Every line works and has exactly the effect it’s meant to. There is a scene between bond Daniel Craig and Bérénice Marlohe about halfway into the film that gave me chills. His relationship with another agent played wonderfully by Naomie Harris is all witty reparte and makes all their scenes together something to relish. His relationship with M (Judy Dench is given more screen time here than in any other Bond film she’s been a part of) is also explored to great effect. Ben Whishaw is our new Q, and one scene in particular, when they meet for the first time, has great and very funny back and forth between the two. What I’m getting at here, is that who ever wrote the dialogues (script is credited to Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan) did a great job.
Don’t get me wrong though, this film does have action, it just doesn’t only rely on that for tension. One of the great show stoppers of the movie for me is a one take fight scene in a highrise, between Bond and one guy. It is filmed in a brave, very unorthodox way and that gives it a thrilling edge. This is a good time to mention Roger deakins, the director of photography. He shoots this film magnificiently. I would be hardpressed to name a James Bond movie more gorgeously shot. His work here is simply stellar and he proves once again that he is one of the absolute best at what he does.
Thomas Newman is responsible for the score and the music in this film is great. Of course we all know the theme and it’s a tough one to fuck up, but Newman knows when to tease and when to give it up and he layers the film with fantastic musical cues to give us the ultimate Bond experience. The opening seconds of this movie are sheere brilliance, specifically because of the score (you’ll know what I mean when you see it).
Even though all actors do a fine job here, I cannot say enough about Javier Bardem’s villain Silva. He is AMAZING in the role. Threatning and funny and flamboyant and dark as fuck. It is the first truly great villain of the new Bond era, and one people are not likely to forget. His first meeting with Bond has, again, spot on dialogue, delivered masterfully by two actors who know exactly who their characters are and what movie they are in. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
The last quarter of the movie took me by surprise, too. They find a great way to bring this movie to a close and, without giving anything away, did it in a very fresh manner. It almost felt like I was watching a western all of a sudden.
The 23rd entry into the Bond franchise is a rousing success, as far as I’m concerned, and at the end, when the phrase “James Bond will return…” appeared on the screen before the end credits, I wanted to cheer. Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long until the next adventure…
Happy 50th, Mr Bond.
The new SKYFALL trailer is here and, if you ask me, it’s everything a trailer for a new James Bond nmovie needs to be. What a blast! November can’t come soon enough!