Sunday, November 25, 2012
When it comes to a fictional icon like suave British superspy James Bond, it can be difficult for filmakers to come up with new things to say about a character who has either charmed, dodged, shot, or punched his way out of virtually every dangerous and high stakes situation imaginable in his fifty plus years of cinematic life. But that is exactly what director Sam Mendes accomplishes in "Skyfall," the latest installment in the 007 in which an uncharacteristically vulnerable and uncertain Bond is forced to take a long hard look at his soul and reaffirm his place in a changing and modern world.
Skyfall mark's Daniel Craig's third outing as Bond and though not quite as veral as he was in 2006's game changing "Casino Royale," the actor still exudes the steely eyed roguish charisma and devil-may-care sponteneity that make him a much more convincing killer than some of his more Hollywood predecessors. With Craig, you can tell that he is a cold, efficient assasin first and a shmoozer second contrary to previous incarnations in which the shmoozing seemed to take first priority and the character only got physical when the situation demanded.
But Bond's heroic international escapades would be moot if not darkened by the menace of a shadowy antagonist and Skyfall mark's the first time Daniel Craig's Bond goes up against a true "supervillain" in the unhinged and enigmatic Silva. Exceptionally portrayed by a very androgenous looking Javier Bardem, the creepy and cat-like Silva proves to be a nemesis who definately shatters the standard "Bond villain mold" of the callous and geriatric business mogul with megalomaniacal aspirations. Silva's motivations and desired endgame are far more personal. This becomes clear part way through the film as the department of MI6 itself is compromised by a series of vicious, techno related attacks perpetrated by the cunning cyber crimminal who we soon discover harbors chilling vendetta against M (Judy Dench) that is explored further as the story progresses. Arguably one of the best Bond villains of all time, the techno savvy Silva is not just an excellent foe for the more antiquated, "old school" Bond but comes to represent somewhat of a black mirror for Bond in terms of an abyss he could have easily fallen into himself.
Each member of the supporting cast shines as well with classic, beloved characters like Q and Monney Penny being cleverly reimagined for a new generation of viewers, Skyfall pays homage to the core elements of the 007 mythology while suceeding in making the world feel fresh, new, and exciting.
Although Casino Royale is still my personal favorite of the Daniel Craig Bond films, Skyfall probably marks the crown jewel in his tenure as 007 thus far. A riveting deconstruction of the character and why he is still relevant in today's world, Skyfall celebrates Bond's legacy while at the same time, pushing him in a bold and fantastic new direction.