Never before had I uttered the words “holy fucking shit” in that succession, yet, upon seeing the trailer for 2012’s newest Bond film Skyfall, the phrase exited my mouth with such a resolute abandon it would have made Gordon Ramsay jump.
The trailer was perfect. And not only would the film conclude a trilogy of as-of-yet two amazing films (find out why I, against popular opinion, enjoyed 2008’s Quantam of Solace here), Skyfall‘s cast and, more importantly, crew, held great promise. Certainly too, two of the best Bond films, Goldeneye and Casino Royale, had, like Skyfall, followed short hiatuses. This film would surely continue the trend.
So, does the film deliver the goods?
I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz of positive review after positive review. And boy, are they right.
With the style of Spooks and action better than Bourne, Skyfall proves a step up in the world of espionage. But the question is, is it still espionage? The answer is a grudging no – grudging because it in no way impinges upon the film’s finely crafted plot. The film doesn’t resemble Fleming’s novels to a great degree, but it nonetheless tips its hat multiple times to the classic Bond while retaining the class and finesse of its source material. Yes, Bond’s beard is soon shaven off, and our old spy is back. If you yearn for the days o’ Die Another Day, Skyfall ain’t the film for you. As Q says, “Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that any more.”
What is most immediately striking about Skyfall is its cinematography, which is more stylised than we’ve seen in any previous Bond film. We get Tarantino-style silhouetted fight scenes for one, and a beautiful nightscape gun battle in Shanghai.
But that’s not the half of it. While the overall tension of the film slowly rises to an awe-inspiring apex, the plot still includes enough twists and turns to keep us guessing. In fact, the antagonist isn’t revealed until somewhere around the half-mark. There are enough quips to keep us interested, and the climax of Skyfall is cinematic gold. The denouement is to die for. Old and young alike will love this film, and fans of classic and new will both be satisfied with what it has to offer. The martini has been shaken, lads, and damn, is it good.
So what’s not to like? Well, I have two minor complaints. What separates this film from its two predecessors is the incidental music – and not necessarily for the better. I’m not talking about the Skyfall theme, oh no. That stuff is golden. I’m talking about the chase music. The suspense music. The I’m-so-cool-being-James-Bond music. Don’t get me wrong – the music is alright, and most of the time it’s suitably catchy. However sometimes, especially early on in the film, its implementation isn’t quite up to the same standard as in the previous two Bonds.
My second gripe with Skyfall is a certain introductory scene involving the antagonist. It’s difficult to explain without giving spoilers, so I won’t go into details. It’s safe to say, though, that an element of the scene could have – or indeed, should have – been omitted. One feels that it was included to provide another side to the already-multifaceted antagonist. The antagonist himself doesn’t need this, as he becomes increasingly mad as the film progresses. We’re talking close to Heath Ledger’s Joker here, guys.
The fact of it is, Skyfall is nearly infallible. I can also vouch for its rewatchability, having already seen it six times consecutively (give me a break. I enjoyed it, okay?). And, as with Quantum of Solace, Skyfall gets better with each viewing. This is one to put on your Christmas list, folks. Movie. Of. The. Fucking. Year.
And yes, I’m counting Batman.