The 23rd James Bond film, ‘Skyfall,’ in Review

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By PATRICK MULLEN

Skyfall, the 23rd official James Bond film, seems like a conscious effort by filmmakers to compete with the blockbuster superhero films of the past few years. The action is bigger and more intense, the camera is more free and flowing and the villain more indestructible.

Despite all that, Skyfall is its own movie. Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) brings his signature direction to a series that many felt had lost steam after 2008’s mediocre Quantum of Solace. Bond is back and arguably better than ever. This is a very different film from the first two Daniel Craig installments, as it does not directly follow either and has a sense of humor. This film is more of a throwback to the classic Bond, and we finally have a film that will make people question whether or not Goldfinger is the best Bond film of the past 50 years.

Like most Bond films, it opens with an elaborate action sequence, which is one of the best I have ever seen. It follows with the elaborate credits and an Adele song (which is quite good). Then the film really gets started. Like in You Only Live Twice, Bond is presumed dead, and MI-6 tries to carry on without him.

After London is bombed by a cyberterrorist, presumably from within the agency, Bond returns and is put on the case. Some of these scenes in London are quite good, as they show M (Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love)dealing with the bureaucracy of her business and the effects of her age, as Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List) plans on taking her job. The increased attention M has received in the previous two films finally pays off in Skyfall, as she is fully realized as a main character.

That is one big thing that distinguishes this as a great movie: the characters and performances. While the action and the plot are exciting, it is the characters that keep you attached. M and Mallory both have many sides to their character, (though I wish there was more to Mallory, mostly because Fiennes is one of my favorite working actors). Even Bond is given more character development than usual; some of his background is released all the while keeping him appropriately enigmatic.

Of course there is Javier Bardem the villain, a former MI-6 agent. While there were a few things with his character I did not think were necessary, he is still a great villain. Seemingly invincible, he fits the old-fashioned archetype of the “Bond supervillain” made famous by characters like Goldfinger and Blofeld.

A lot happens at the end that will probably greatly affect how the series continues, so if you are planning on seeing it (which you should be), see it soon before everyone spoils it. It is an excellent action film with a surprising amount of depth; one of the best films of the year.