Monday, October 29, 2012

SKYFALL - The old dog is still full of tricks

The new James Bond film has been highly anticipated by fans and viewers who are just happy to watch a good action movie. I think it is safe to say that even people who aren't too bothered by James Bond were quite looking forward to this one. Of course I don't know if that is entirely true but I want audience members who aren't Bond fans to realise that this is not a standard Bond film! Gone are the cheesy lines. Gone are the baddies who can't shoot straight. Gone are the invisible cars that are just not plausible. This is Bond down to Earth, grounded in a real society. Fair enough some action scenes still stretch your sense of believability but Skyfall has one thing that (Casino Royale aside) the other Bond film's don't have; emotion. This is the Bond film that will change everything.

You can still expect the usual elements for a Bond film. It does have the girls who he undoubtedly will sleep with. It does have the exposition heavy scenes in-between the glamorous sights and fist fights. And of course it has the excellent action sequences that show Bond still is the best for action scenes. We open with a chase through Istanbul where Bond attempts to retrieve a hard drive containing the names of all agents in undercover operations across the globe. This finds him on a motorbike, in a digger, on a train, and even in a digger on a train however this time he doesn't escape unscathed. He first takes a hit from his nemesis before being shot of the roof by his partner shooting from some distance; an accident of course but a judgement call made by M back at base. This information must be big news if she was willing to risk her best agent's life. So with Bond presumed dead he hides away on the other side of the globe trying to forget the life he lead, that is until M is threatened and a bomb explodes in MI6. Cue Bond's return, but this time he isn't the perfect agent we are used to seeing. He is unshaven; he wears tracksuits instead of suits, and can barely even shoot straight. He even fails a standard word association test by a psychologist. This is Bond at the lowest we have ever seen him. Despite this M puts her faith in him and sends him off to find out who planted the bomb. He follows a potential lead to Shanghai before meeting the first enemy he has ever had trouble staying ahead of. This 'baddie' Silva has a vendetta against M and won't stop until she has suffered like he did. Bond must adopt a different approach as this isn't a mission about world domination this is one that is personal.

The synopsis alone shows that this is a different take on Bond. Many have believed that this is Bond back to how he should be but I have to disagree, I think this is the Bond that connects the poor Quantum Of Solace back to how a Bond film should be. This one is completely different as this time it is personal to Bond and we even learn more about his character and childhood, something we have rarely done in the previous 22 outings. Normally Bond becomes entangled in a plot for global domination; here we have the standard man on man protector vs. assassin. Here Bond is not so much a MI6 secret agent as he is a bodyguard for his mother figure of M. This is Bond stripped down to his emotional core where we learn more about his connection with M and what makes them work. This film barely even uses the typical Bond girl formula. Neither of the two main girls have much screen time and instead M is the Bond girl, withdrawing the sex of course. This time she has more of a role to play in the field as for the first time we understand who she is. Emotion is exactly what has adapted this version of Bond from its predecessors. There is also plenty of emotion from the villain in Javier Bardem's Silva (who is excellent and creepy), with his motives really being felt. He also shows us a side to him that is frightening that many will not see coming, I only wish they had used more of it. The acting, the depth of story, and the cinematography (especially in the fantastic Shanghai scenes) is just brilliant. Sam Mendes should be thanked for bringing Bond into a new era.

The theme of the film is also much deeper than what we will have known from a Bond film. It looks at how Bond and M have become too old for this way of the world and that is highlighted many times such as when he meets Q, who looks far too young to be so clever, we also see Bond suffer and struggle to keep up with tougher opponents. Even M is accused in court of being behind the times. In a final shoot out, which takes us all the way back to the beginning, we learn that it is the old ways that are just as important and I feel that this entire film was a statement in that direction. Many fans complained about Bond evolving into this century and there are so many in jokes here that say that this is Bond evolving but we will always hold on to what was important. This is the Bond that has set a stall for the Bond's of the future.

One or two negatives aside, such as a few unoriginal plot twists, this is one of the better films we have seen this year. It is packed with so much emotion, depth, and adrenaline that it is so difficult to not like it. Skyfall is a new era for Bond but still has enough in the way of a typical Bond formula to keep those usual fans happy. This is the bridge between old and new and Mendes has created a great way of doing that. This isn't the Bond film where he prevents the World from collapsing, no this is the Bond film about M; causing Bond to become more of a side character in order to grow and bring himself into this new way of the World.

Pros: Depth and emotion in the story as well as your usual Bond action.

Cons: A couple of unoriginal plot twist.

8.5 / 10

Top 10 of 2012 so far:

1. The Dark Knight Rises     10 / 10 
2. Skyfall     8.5 / 10
3. The Hunger Games     8 / 10
4. Snow White And The Huntsman     8 / 10
5. Avengers Assemble     7.5 / 10
6. Looper     7.5 / 10
7. Ted     7.5 / 10
8. 21 Jump Street     7.5 / 10
9. Lawless     7 / 10
10. The Expendables 2     7 / 10

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