Reviews are throwing around statements like 'Best Bond movie ever' and 'Craig is the best James Bond of all-time.' Be careful of heading into Skyfall with overinflated expectations. The film is very good and a much needed rebound from the convoluted Quantum of Solace but to go to such extremes is well....a bit extreme. While racking my brain to come up with the best, most simplistic summation of the film I came across this tweet from Toronto International Film Festival director Cameron Bailey, 'Skyfall satisfies'. A pretty simplistic statement but it speaks volumes. How many films in 2012 alone have advertised and promised a certain cinematic experience only to fall well short?
I will say that Skyfall is the most 'Bond 'of Craig's 007 outings. Casino Royale was a massive reinvention of the franchise that was so fresh and far-left that our jaded James Bond senses were invigorated. But in revitalizing the franchise, Royale sacrificed a lot of the sensibilities intrinsic to the Ian Fleming novels. Skyfall returns to the Fleming fold but probably not how you expect.
There are certain types of films where you know heading in that you should switch your brain off at the door. And then there are films where you know you'll need your brain synapses firing on all cylinders or you'll miss the subtle and indirect elements that some of our best auteurs inject in their films. Casino Royale was a film in the latter category. Quantum of Solace was a film much too far in that same category. Skyfall surprisingly, is a film in the first category but that's not to say its Expendables 2 or The Man With The Iron Fists. The film is fully aware that you'll sit down to watch, looking closely for The Turn, if I can borrow a bit of nomenclature from The Prestige (Hey, Mendes did say he was inspired by Christopher Nolan). The status quo established by Casino Royale dictates that a minor plot development, death, statement, etc. something presented very early on in the film will resurface in the final act to have profound ramifications. That moment never comes in Skyfall, the plot is a steady development that builds and builds until only the finally brick remains to be laid. And in that final moment, Craig and Dench deliver evocative performances that will remain with you long after the credits roll.
Speaking of Dame Judi, if any of the actors in the film have a shot at taking home an Academy Award its her. Craig and Bardem are exceptional and memorable in their portrayals of hero and villain but its M that makes the story turn. Naomie Harris injects a breath of much needed fresh air into the MI6 dynamic and Ben Whishaw is a Q for the modern era. The casting overall is a true testament to producers Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Brocolli and Mendes; not a single weak point in the entire ensemble.
The film does have a few minor miscues but the action, acting, editing and score are so solid that you'll easily forgive them. Simply put, Skyfall satisfies.
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