By Matthew Bu
In the tragic, post-industrial, bourgeoisie world we live in, successful movie series are hard to come by. Sequels disappoint when compared to the original. Movies simply repeat each other, even when they’re not in the same series. The Bond series seems to have an immunity token, refusing to be voted off the island, and remaining firm in its refusal to accept mediocrity. Skyfall returns to the classic Bond formula which made the series so great: interesting villains, gritty violence, a darkly humorous Bond, and comparably brighter supporting actresses. This may, however, be the boldest Bond film yet. With Skyfall you get gorgeous sets, well-executed fight scenes, and a smart script that hooks you from the very start.
The film follows the “resurrection” of James Bond (Daniel Craig) to be the agent he once was after “retiring” ( a bit preemptively, at the hands of a bullet wound instead of an HR rep). When Jamesy-boy hears news of a cyber attack on MI6, he must fight for his country once again, and fight to protect those who matter to him the most (at this point I’d like to point out Bond perhaps avoids falling at the hands of cliché by simply flying in its face).
This movie could have easily ended up like the bamboozling Quantum of Solace, but is somehow able to stay clear from this pitfall while keeping aspects of intricacy. Judi Dench plays M better than ever, especially considering the her more dramatic role (ooOoo cliffhanger) in the film. I specifically enjoyed the exploration into the past between Bond and M (I reiterate: “ooOoo cliffhanger”). All joking aside, the real winner of the film is Javier Bardem in his portrayal of the antagonist, Raoul Silva. Silva is enigmatic and difficult to understand. I came to the movie to watch special effects and shove buttered calories down my throat without thinking about it. Here was someone trying to make me think. I initially hated the character. I thought Bardem’s portrayal was poor and sarcastic. But as the film goes on, Silva is fleshed out and shown to be deeper than the pan of Jiffy Pop I had made him out to be. If one pays close enough attention, Bardem’s portrayal is excellent and lends enough depth to a Bond villain to make the thought worthwhile, without the complexity of thought required for a “who done it”.
My only real complaint is that the Bond girl, Sévérine (played by Bérénice Lim Marlohe), is not very developed (and has a name that is nearly-impossible to retype). She’s hardly developed, though what little acting she did was quality, and the disappointment really comes from the fact that she could have had a larger role. She could have aided Bond through his battles, or maybe said something mildly thought provoking, but instead she seems to strut around speak in that husky voice that really just makes you wonder if you have enough popcorn to continue to eat at this rate. She appears, and disappears.
Ultimately, Skyfall is a great film. It won’t be mind-blowing, but it’s hardly targeting the mind. It is a great Bond film, but a Bond film nonetheless. While it may not make any DVD collections, it certainly deserves to be respected as one of the best in the series.