This week is a special edition of Take 5, where we look at the newest installment of the adventures of Agent 007.
After 50 years on the big screen, there have been 23 official Bond films released, and the newest, “Skyfall,” is one of the best ever. Starring Daniel Craig in his third outing as Bond, and directed by series newcomer Sam Mendes, the film feels like a crossroads for the series, where it looks deeply at both its past and its future.
The film never lets up, from its opening sequence set in Istanbul as Agents Bond and Eve are pursuing an assassin who has a list of every MI6 agent undercover around the world, to a terrorist attack in the heart of London. Sam Mendes gives the action sequences a very graceful appearance, with the climactic scene at Skyfall, an attack in the dark of night, having a haunting beauty.
Bringing back “Q” and “ Miss Moneypenny” to the series brings a sense of normalcy to the proceedings. Both are played expertly by Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris respectively. They both represent a new generation of MI6, one that doesn’t need the skills of a 007 to operate. Ben Whishaw’s Q says it best: “I can do more damage on my laptop in my pajamas than you can do in a year in the field.” The return of these characters and some other plot details I won’t give away, makes it seem like the growth process for Daniel Craig’s Bond is over. He has confronted his demons during his first three appearances and is now on the other side, stronger.
The best part of this film is easily the performance of Javier Bardem as the antagonist Raoul Silva. He is the most interesting villain the franchise has had in many years, especially compared to the villains of the last two movies, the organization “Quantum.” He and Bond share a connection through M that is the film’s strongest relationship. They are two mirrors of the same person, someone who has been molded by M into a killing machine. It is his personal vendetta against M, for a past betrayal, that is the central conflict of the movie. His first encounter with Bond is one of the most memorable entrances for a villain this franchise has seen.
This final appearance for Judi Dench as M is one of her strongest ones yet. She brings a palpable sense of steely regret to the role, as it was her past actions that have caused the current state of affairs. However, she is still iron-willed and never apologizes for her actions, knowing that she was working for the greater good.
With this film, the Bond franchise is ready for a bright future, with the familiar cast of characters back in place and a Bond that is ready to be the 007 that we all know. Filled with fantastic action set pieces along with a smart, emotional plot, my final verdict for this film: A-
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