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Massive film fan, and first year History student.

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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Skyfall Review

007 is back in a thrilling new outing, but it is the film's emotive undercurrent which cements Daniel Craig as a Bond legend

The James Bond franchise returned to our screens last week in its 50th anniversary year with the latest incarnation, Skyfall. Directed by the British film maker Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig again plays the suave yet brutal MI6 spy while Judi Dench continues in her role as the stalwart M. On villainous duties is the ever superb spanish actor Javier Bardem who plays the whimsically frightening Raoul Silva, a cyber terrorist with a grudge. Naomie Harris plays fellow MI6 agent, Eve, who Bond quickly strikes a rapport with while Berenice Marlohe is the sexy secondary bond girl, Severine. Ralph Fiennes as Mallory and Ben Whishaw as Q also feature to add to a fantastic cast.

In typical Bond style, the film begins with breathtaking cinematic scenery of a foreign land, tracking Bond down to Istanbul, Turkey. Following an action packed introduction sequence in which Bond attempts to chase down an assailant to reclaim stolen information (making the film's premise clear) Bond is accidentally shot by fellow agent Eve (Harris). M's stone cold reaction to the misfiring, against the backdrop of a rainy London leads us all to believe our beloved spy is dead. But of course he isn't, Bond never dies. After 'enjoying death' for a number of months, Bond decides to return to London after a terrorist attack is made on MI6 headquarters, yet he is far from his glorious best. Returning to M disheveled and out of shape, Bond struggles to keep up with the physical pressures of his previous life. However M, with such confidence in her man, entrusts Bond to go after the culprit (Javier Bardem's Silva) who attacked MI6. Yet of course, all is not as simple as it seems with the intelligent Silva constantly one step ahead of Bond. His use of cyber terrorism creates chaos in London, as shootouts in courtrooms and tube crashes ensue. However this is not MI6's only problem, with Ralph Fiennes' Gareth Mallory telling M she is being forced to retire. We are also introduced to Bond's new quarter master (Ben Whishaw) who banters well with 007. Set in the stunning, foggy highlands of Scotland with an appearance from Albert Finney, the film's climactic and beautiful ending is as tragic as it is thrilling, with Silva proving more than a match for Bond.

Daniel Craig's understated performance is true to form, as always. Combining the usual smouldering cheek that he brings to the character as well showing us a deeper side to Bond. In Skyfall we dig into Bond's history more than ever before, something which was never particularly featured in the more recent adaptations, yet is mentioned in Fleming's books. Learning of Bond's history pays off and creates a more genuine character that audience's can identify with. M's history is also revealed throughout the story. While Judi Dench's M has more often than not been seen as emotionless and harsh, M's softer side is routinely shown in Skyfall while in the film's finale it was the first time you could describe her as acting 'elderly'. The relationship between M and Bond is almost maternal towards the end, and the fact despite everything going on, Bond never once loses faith in her shows the strength of their friendship. This exploration into their chemistry makes the ending all the more tragic. Javier Bardem's Raoul Silva was everything I expected from the actor after his Oscar winning performance in 2007's No Country For Old Men. He brought a pinch of the villainy of past Bond baddies and combined it with a psychotic edge, reminiscent of Heath Ledger's Joker. His playful nature, on display in the Bond interrogation scene sent shivers, while his quiet intelligence is a treat, Bardem's performance is the jewel in the crown. Naomie Harris as Eve was a nice touch by Mendes, a realistic and strong Bond girl who at times was the only one who could keep up with Bond. Ben Whishaw is a stand out as the new Q, although young he brings a certain wisdom and gentleman presence to the role. Q was not the only nod to classic Bond, the introduction of the iconic Aston Martin was great while not seeming cheesy or gimmicky. The only negative of the film is that we did not see more of Berenice Marlohe's Severine who's mysterious background and intense chemistry with Craig's Bond was one of the film's highlights.

Skyfall is Bond back in action after the failure that was The Quantum of Solace (but hey, every Bond actor needs at least one bad movie right?). The film dives deeper into Bond than ever before while keeping true to classic Bond themes. The story was clever enough to satisfy film buffs while also broad enough to not alienate the younger audience. Although it was serious, the film was not light on its humourus moments (which is what Q of S often lacked), which provided great comic relief. Mendes has created a classic Bond film while Craig has surely cemented himself as the best actor in a generation to don the tuxedo. The audience delves into Bond's steely and secretive life like never before, Skyfall is daring yet stirring. 4.5/5

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