2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise and with this came some serious pressure for the newest installment. Coupled with this was the further goal to improve upon 2008’s Quantum of Solace which caused a fair deal of dissapointment upon its realease. In many ways, Skyfall was always going to be crucial for the future of the Bond franchise.
It was expected, therefore, that Skyfall would contain a mixture of what characterised the older Bond films and the more modern elements introduced by Casino Royale and this, as it happens, is the film’s greatest asset. The film continues the realism and grittiness of the modern Bond films while still managing to be lovingly referential to the originals, keeping intact the witty quips and the introduction of new, archetypically Bondesque characters. Thankfully, these references never slip into pastiche, and the film retains much of what made the newer films so unique.
What made Casino Royale, and to a lesser extent Quantum of Solace, work so well was that they focused on Bond as a realistic, three-dimensional character. Skyfall does exactly the same, even going as far as to divulge a little of Bond’s backstory. Along with this, the role of M is expanded. In fact, the plot is largely based on M, giving Judi Dench her biggest role in the series yet.
The villain this time around is Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a pseudo-cbyer terrorist who launches a personal attack on MI6 itself. Again, Skyfall presents itself very much as a 21st Century Bond movie, as the villain has no evil plot for world domination but rather seeks personal vengence and does so with little more than his computer. Bardem plays it surprisingly camp but despite this, he stills adds enough threat and the occasional tinge of insanity to make Silva intimidating.
While much of the criticism for Quantum of Solace may not be deserved, one of the more valid issues was that the plot, while not overly complicated, was rather incomprehensibly told. Skyfall’s plot, on the other hand, is much more focused. This leaves much of the film’s running time to focus on the characters themselves – particularly Bond, of course. Daniel Craig has proved again why he is ideal for the realistic, gritty incarntaion of Bond which stays truer to original novels. Give Craig one more film and he may well cement his position as the very best Bond yet.
Overall there is very little to compain about. The only one which springs to mind is that Bardem may occasioanlly play it slightly too camp, enough so to raise a few chuckles in the cinema at least. Aside from this I believe that Skyfall does more or less everything you could want from a modern Bond film, delivering on thrills, drama and even the occasional witty one-liner.
However, the most important element of Skyfall is the recurring theme of relevance. Throughout the film, the question of whether Bond, M and MI6 itself are needed in today’s world is constantly raised. This is obviously a comment on whether of not the Bond franchise is still relevant in modern cinema, made even more significant as Bond celebrates 50 years on screen. I feel that Skyfall proves that the Bond franchise is not only still relevant but still essential viewing in modern cinema.