After 50 years and 23 films, the 007 series has done more than most franchises could ever hope for, and “Skyfall” celebrates this legacy by being not only one of the best Bond movies ever made, but by also being one of the best movies that has come out this year. Period.
We’re thrown right into the action as Bond (Daniel Craig) attempts to regain a hard drive containing the identities of undercover operatives from around the globe. This fight scene is one of the most ridiculous and entertaining fights that I’ve seen in a while and ranges from a car chase through the crowded streets of Istanbul to its culmination in a brutal fist fight on top of a train, all of this monitored by M (Judi Dench). During the struggle, M commands Bond’s partner Eve (Naomie Harris) to “take the shot,” and she ends up hitting 007, who falls from the train and is presumed dead.
The hard drive is lost, Bond is gone and M is put under investigation by her new overseer Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), all while the mysterious villain who orchestrated the theft of the drive is still loose. All these problems combine to provide Dench a chance to shine. It may be a Bond film, but “Skyfall” is just as much about M as it is 007.
Dench has always been a powerhouse actress, not to mention a personal favorite as M, and “Skyfall” delves more deeply into her character than ever before, including a dark secret from her past which finds life in the form of Silva (Javier Bardem).
The last two films in the series have had lackluster villains to say the least, but Silva breaks that pattern and sets the bar for future villains. Silva is a bad guy for the modern age, operating primarily in the digital world, using computers to do most of his work. His plans are meticulous, his reach is long, and the menace hidden behind his eccentric exterior is enough to earn him a place in Bond history.
Speaking of Bond, Craig manages to elevate the character to a level which can compete with Bardem and Dench’s extraordinary performances. Of course, he’s been Bond twice before, so he can obviously play the role, but in this newest addition to the series, Craig shows us the character as something more than just a secret agent with a penchant for the finer things in life. We’re given a man with a soul and a past, which helps make “Skyfall” one of the most emotionally involved Bond movies ever.
Ben Whishaw plays a young and highly overdue Q. Witty banter between Q and Bond is a staple of the series, and Whishaw serves up the bone-dry humor in his own way, proving that he has what it takes to be the man behind the gear.
“Skyfall” celebrates everything that makes Bond Bond and will appeal to long time fans as well as newcomers. One of the best moments of the film is the reappearance of the Aston Martin DB5 from “Goldfinger,” a classic car for a classic franchise, both of which are still looking absolutely brilliant.
An outstanding cast, a thrilling story, vibrant visuals, a beautiful new Bond song (courtesy of Adele) and much more all add up to make “Skyfall” one of the best Bond films to date and an instant classic.
5 out of 5.