Skyfall sets new standard for Bond movies

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Daniel Craig returns as 007 today in Skyfall.

By Will Thomas

Staff Writer

I went into Skyfall with high expectations for a James Bond movie, and I was not disappointed. Daniel Craig’s portrayal of 007 has never been working at a level like this.

After Bond is accidently shot by fellow agent Eve on a mission to Turkey, he is pronounced missing, assumed dead. He uses the time he gains from his “death” as his retirement from MI6. A few months into this retirement, MI6 is attacked directly, and Bond returns to help stop the new terrorist threat.

The movie has an unusual focus on M, the head of MI6 played by Judi Dench. The villain, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), has a personal vendetta against M, so the story has more of a personal touch than most Bond films. There is no reference to the terrorist organization Quantum in Skyfall. This movie is not about a random threat to the world, but a threat against M and the British Secret Service. It is easy to say this is Dench’s best performance as M to date.

After Bond returns, his physique has deteriorated. His accuracy with firearms is almost nonexistent. He does not even fit the psychological needs for field work. The filmmakers do an excellent job of showing Bond’s struggle with his newfound weaknesses throughout the film. Bond actually recovers over the course of the film; instead of being instantly back in shape at one point.

My favorite part of this entire movie is the delving into Bond’s childhood. This is ground that has never been broken before in a Bond film. Because of the way the filmmakers ended the movie, it feels like the childhood of Bond cannot be touched on again like it was in Skyfall.

The movie is filled with throwbacks to previous 007 films which leave the hardcore Bond fans laughing and cheering. From a quip about exploding pens to the introduction of some classic characters, these references are everywhere in Skyfall.

After absences in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, the character Q has returned to the big screen with 007. As Craig’s Bond roles cover the first few missions of 007, that includes having a young quartermaster to provide him with all of the gadgets he needs. Q, played by Ben Whishaw, is a young refreshing change from the older versions. Much to my surprise, there still were not any new gadgets other than what was revealed in the trailer. In Skyfall it felt like Whishaw is not there to give gadgets, but to provide an origin story for the relationship between Bond and Q. Still, Whishaw is entertaining in his small amount of screen time.

It is easy to say Craig crushes it as Bond his third time around. It truly feels like he could become the actor who defines Bond. The writers gave Craig the benefit of showing the audience the psyche of 007. After the ending of Skyfall, it felt like the Bond movies of Daniel Craig were meant to be an origin trilogy. The ending gave the impression that it would be Craig’s last round with the Walther PPK, but he has already signed on for two more films. So this is not the last you have seen of the blond 007.

The movie has a runtime of 143 minutes and there are parts where it drags on. There is a scene with a voiceover from M that makes it seem like the movie is about to get an amazing ending. But in reality, the ending is about 45 minutes away. It is a fantastic direction to go, but it is definitely abrupt and unexpected.

Javier Bardem plays an amazing Bond villain. He has everything a nemesis of 007 needs: An unusual physical deformity, memorable dialogue, and a believable motive. I was surprised at what little screen time was given to Bardem, but his character did not require it. His uniqueness keeps the viewers wanting more, so his absence in much of the film keeps their attention. Raoul Silva did set a milestone in the franchise as the first openly gay Bond villain. It is an unexpected turn for me, but then I found myself thinking “Why not?” and immediately onboard with it.

Whether Skyfall is the best Bond movie yet is debatableSkyfall is more of an epic conclusion to a trilogy that started with Casino, without actually being a conclusion. Casino can stand alone, but I do not think that watching Skyfall would be as entertaining without watching Casino first.

Fans of the 007 movies will undoubtedly love Skyfall. Newcomers to the spy series will still enjoy the film, but I believe they will find it even more entertaining if they watch Casino first. Even after 50 years, the studio assures us that James Bond will return, and a massive fan base will be waiting for him when he does.

Rating: A

Daniel Craig returns as 007 today in Skyfall.