Review by Toby Lattimore

Skyfall (12A)

The much anticipated latest edition of James Bond, featuring Daniel Craig as Bond, explodes onto the screen with an Oscar-winning theme tune and the same no nonsense attitude we have come to expect from the straight-faced secret agent. The opening sequence is a trail-blazing pursuit cut short unexpectedly, the result being the rebirth of a tragic hero who is perhaps feeling his age. Bond is then released to finish the mission he was prevented doing the first time round, and salvage some nationally important data. But he is soon up against the impressively portrayed Silva, an ex-agent bent on seeking revenge on M and played by Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men).

Bardem rolls up in a theatrical way. He speaks in a heavily accented English, has died his hair an off yellow and flaps his hand around in a nonchalant way, hamming up his campness, and seems to have combined these traits to establish his own brand of baddie. At first it is difficult to believe this somewhat over the top image of a man but as we learn more about him his twisted nature is revealed and to a certain extent he is accepted into the great canon of Bond villains. His presence is impressive.

Naomie Harris (28 Days Later) appears as agent Eve and Ralph Fiennes (English Patient) as Gareth Mallory and M’s new boss or so it seems. Both are excellent and will no doubt feature in the next Bond film, their characters becoming more involved as the story moves forward. M, played by Dame Judi Dench, is implacable, unforgiving and hard until the end. She has more than ever been held up, in this version of Bond, as the vision of the ‘stiff upper lip’ and does not give an inch. She brings to the screen all her experience and washes the film with credibility.

There seems to be everything you could need in this incarnation except for one thing. The Bond Girl is a strange bit part-played by Berenice Marlohe. When she appears she is exotic and has a powerful screen presence, with an interesting back story, but her role is short lived. Bond fails to save her or even give it much of a go. One of the reasons why Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale was the best Bond film ever made was because of Bond’s connection with Vesper Lynd played by Eva Green. There is little of this in Skyfall. The emotion element is perhaps Bond’s link with his past and we glimpse a sense of the loss of his parents. Yet somehow this only weakens him where as his love for Vesper empowered a dark man who seemed to have no hope, and riveted us to our seats. Skyfall is intriguing and bleakly impressive.


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