When we last left James Bond (Daniel Craig) --- it doesn't matter what happened before, he's chasing a bad guy now! Apparently, some nasty man has stolen the computer files that hold the identities of every MI6 agent that is currently working undercover, throughout the world. Not only does that spill the beans on a number of double agents spying on other nations, but it throws everybody working in deep undercover within terrorist organizations under the proverbial bus. Who do you send to re-capture these files? James Bond, 00-bleepin'-7, of course.
|Eyes on the prize, gun pointed at your heart. Or junk. Whichever works.|
|But not until he straightened his cufflinks, like a true badass|
|Ugh. Gross. Roger Moore didn't look this old and bloated in A View to a Kill.|
The acting in Skyfall is some of the best the 007 series has ever seen. That's not saying a lot, given that most of the actresses in the series had their lines dubbed over, but it is pretty darn good. This is the most emotional James Bond viewers have ever seen, and Daniel Craig does a wonderful job. It may be worth arguing whether or not his emotions are truly Bond-ian, but Craig managed to be super-cool, dangerous, whistful and angst-y, all while playing an icon. Not bad. Javier Bardem was easily my favorite Bond villain in at least 30 years. Bardem --- who has consistently impressed me since Before Night Falls --- manages to do the nearly impossible. He manages not to be sexy here. Instead, he channels a blend of The Joker and Phillip Seymour Hoffman from Mission: Impossible III. Is he a crazy, evil genius? Obviously. But he's also tired of having to prove it to everyone, and that somehow makes him a magnetic presence on the screen. He's a little ridiculous and over-the-top, but Bardem embraces the role and winds up being the most memorable villain since...well, I'll get into that later.
|It's like a caveman bleached his hair and bought ugly clothes|
|"I don't need gadgets, I need and anti-STD spray"|
|SPOILER ALERT: she's Bond's barber|
|With a look like that, how is her character's name not Ivana Hatefukyoo?|
Skyfall may just be the best-acted Bond movie of all time. Since this is the 24th entry in the franchise, that sounds more impressive than it really is. I will argue that this performance solidifies Daniel Craig as the best Bond since Sean Connery. That's a loaded statement, I know, but I am more than willing to argue the point. Javier Bardem also gave one of the best Bond villain performances ever. His is easily the best villain since the 1970s (with Sean Bean as a distant second), and arguably fits comfortably within the top 5 of all time. Even more astounding, the supporting cast is actually decent! This is not one of those Bond movies where you scoff at Denise Richards being as nuclear physicist --- the lesser roles are played capably and realistically.
|Assuming, of course, that people sail into neon dragon mouths to gamble|
A lot of the credit for Skyfall's success belongs to director Sam Mendes. It's been a quiet dozen years for Mendes, following American Beauty --- he hasn't been idle, but the acclaim hasn't matched that of his debut. In a lot of ways, it feels odd watching a James Bond movie filmed by a capable director. There are not a lot of clearly show-boat-y action sequences in Skyfall. There are, though, several scenes with impressive cinematography.
|Yes, this scene was cool|
|He didn't aim small|
As a longtime fan of Bond movies, I have to briefly address a few of the homages in Skyfall. I liked the deprecating remarks toward Q branch when Craig finally met his Quartermaster. Q has long been a source of the more ridiculous moments in a series known for silliness, and I liked the understated Q weapons this time around, especially when coupled with the goofier ones in the classic Aston Martin. That's right; Skyfall somehow calls back to the Connery days by having Craig Bond own the classic Connery Bond car, complete with ejector seat. It makes no logical sense, given the reboot, but continuity has always taken a back seat to fun in this series, so why sweat the details?
|Only James Bond can sulk while standing by an Aston Martin DB5|
Alright, so I liked this entry in the James Bond series. That means that it is fun, but not necessarily good. However, Skyfall surprised me by being genuinely, objectively enjoyable. Like, conceivably-Oscar-nominated good, not a let's-have-fun-with-it good. This is easily the best Bond movie in ages and deserves to be watched multiple times. Great direction, great villain, and multi-layered lead performance means...