"Skyfall" channels classic, new elements
With this year being the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the twenty-third film in the series has just been released. How does it stack up against the rest of Bond's legendary adventures?
Going into "Skyfall," I had relatively low expectations. I liked "Casino Royale" but didn't love it, and strongly disliked "Quantum of Solace." As someone who really loves Sean Connery's interpretation of James Bond and holds it close to my heart, I felt like Daniel Craig's Bond was shying too far away from what made the character great. He was depicted as almost superhuman rather than as a regular, flawed man fighting for his country. I am happy to say that "Skyfall" takes Bond back to his roots and reminded me of why I fell in love with the character in the first place.
In the movie, MI6 agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) is beginning to lose his touch after a mission in Turkey goes awry. Not only must Bond battle a former agent/computer whiz gone berserk named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), he must also battle his own personal demons to save his fellow agents M (Judi Dench) and Q (Ben Whishaw), his country and, ultimately, himself.
First and foremost, Bond is no longer the superhero-like character he was in "Quantum of Solace." Instead, 007 is portrayed as a very flawed human being. He drinks too much, recklessly makes decisions and endangers many lives, including his own, in the process. The narrative echoes this summer's "Dark Knight Rises" in that Bond must fall before he eventually picks himself up and saves MI6. Craig's nuanced performance gives the audience a very personal view of Bond that really develops the character and his story.
Two things really stood out to me in the film that I should mention: the cinematography and Javier Bardem. In all honesty, this is probably one of the most beautifully-shot films I have ever seen. Ranging from a silhouette fight scene to a simple puff of smoke, each image adds to the film, making it feel more as though you are viewing a piece of art rather than a James Bond movie. As the main villain of the film, Bardem is absolutely terrifying but also strangely likable. You can see why he does the things he does, which makes him even scarier. If you loved Bardem's performance in "No Country for Old Men," this is very different but just as good in my opinion.
While the points of criticism I have for "Skyfall" are minor, they should not be ignored. I felt like a huge opportunity was missed near the end of the film with the character Kincade (Albert Finney). It felt as though he was playing a role tailor-made for Sean Connery. I don't know if they just couldn't Connery to do the role, but it felt like a missed opportunity for a spectacular cameo. Finney is solid in the role, but it he just does not take the leap to make "Skyfall" great. Also, some of the opening passages of the film are slow-paced. It makes up for it towards the end of the movie, but it is still something to note.
All in all, my complaints about "Skyfall" are few and far between and shouldn't lead you to think I don't like the film. It does a great job of channeling the classic James Bond legend we all love while mixing it (shaken, not stirred) with the new elements of the series. If you love Bond like I do, you will appreciate the little nods to previous films. I'm now excited for the next Bond movie instead of dreading it. While it is not a perfect film, it is definitely a great one that any fan of the series should see. Plus, the title sequence is the best in any Bond film, and nearly worth the price of admission itself. I give "Skyfall" a 4.5 out of 5.
Jordan Ray is a sophomore journalism major from Houston, Texas.