Country: UK, USA
Genre: Action, Adventure
Director: Sam Mendes
After CASINO ROYALE (2006); QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008), Daniel Craig’s resurrection as James Bond arrives in its 3rd round, with Winslet’s ex-hubby Sam Mendes holding the director’s reins, the film surpasses my presumption to a great extent, not the least with a sterling cinematography achievement from Roger Deakins.
The film kick-starts in Istanbul, a fresh deja-vu of Liam Neeson’s TAKEN 2 (2012) is the knee-jerking response, however, the subsequent train chase action is the bona fide climax. Adele’s theme song comes next, a complete mind-blower (I listened the song for the first time) and visually it reminds me of Karen O’s Immigrant Song, the eye-popping opening tune of Fincher’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011, stars Daniel Craig as well).
The sleek and phenomenal night view of a metropolitan Shanghai is both reminiscent and dear to me (only if the crew could have tapped more into it), and for globetrotters, Bond’s journey will never get bored, later on an exotic (but quite artificial) Macao and a godforsaken ghost island will satisfy all the western passengers before things return to London and eventually a surprising showdown at Scotland (the titular Skyfall lodge) Bond’s childhood home, the foggy and dreamlike settings are in the perfect sense under Deakins’ haunting shots, the atmosphere is deadly artistic yet gripping.
Apart from the digital visual stunts, the film opts to a more detailed revenge route for its (commonly) stereotyped villain and invests more time in Judi Dench’s swan song of M, whose superior-subordinate/mother-son affinities with Bond, this time it is not about saving the world, it is a pure and simple vengeance game.
Daniel Craig is still the indomitable Bond, steely but less refined, but the scene stealers here are definitely Dame Judi Dench and the maniac ex-MI6 agent Javier Bardem. The truth is Dench is the real “bond girl” in this episode, who dominates a protracted screen-time (only second to Bond), since we all aware that it is the last time to see her in this recurrent role, the film has kindly proffered her some Academy-worthy moments (the poem-citing scene in the court for example), to accent on poising herself with integrity and professional pride for the country she serves while exuding a bit testimony as a human flesh with very subtle but emotional unsettlement. Although I am not on board with M’s denouement in the film (too banal compared with other revolutionary merits injected in the reboot of the franchise), Dench and her team behind definitely should champion hard for a seat in the next Oscar race. So could be said to Bardem, but he is much like a long-shot since formulaic villains in the franchise films are principally snubbed by the voting members, Bardem delivers an awe-inspiring performance, period. New bond girl Bérénice Marlohe has scant time but it may conform to the saying “less is better”as long as her mission has been convincingly accomplished. Fiennes’ role is dooming to be more meaty next time and Harris is just another girl can serious kick someone’s ass.
I do hope SKYFALL will find more endorsement in the academic field, where in the history of 50 years, James Bond and his makers have never been taken seriously, and the time finally comes when some curse must be broken.