Skyfall

Skyfall ★★★★★

Sometimes the old ways are the best.

My love affair with James Bond has been a long one. One of the first novels I read in English was Casino Royale. I was about eleven years old I think and just finding my footing in the English language. The accessibility of that novel, combined with the thrilling story appealed to me very much and warranted many a trip to my local library to seek out more novels about this roguish, charismatic and brutal cold hearted killer. I have read all Bond novels and love them for their escapist qualities.

The transition to the movies has been a bumpy ride for me as I felt they never managed to capture Fleming's Bond really well. All incarnations represented aspects of the character and I soon realised I should keep book Bond and movie Bond two seperate entities. That worked really well and I therefore never had a clear favourite James Bond. Until Mr. Craig came along that is.

Let me just first say that I didn't feel the need to revisit all the old Bond films as I have seen all of them at least twice and many people here on Letterboxd have documented their marathons extraordinarily well, allowing me to tag along on a virtual marathon in preparation for watching Skyfall. So thank you all for that, you know who you are.

Craig's turn as Bond in Casino Royale hit all the right notes for me. He was the Bond I wanted, attractively unattractive, single minded and a physical presence, whether intimidating or seducing. Quantum of Solace was a bit of a let down, but Skyfall is the Bond films to end all Bond films. And purposefully so.

Sam Mendes is a director I'm not particularly a fan of, but he is certainly talented. He has directed a couple of very good films and here he serves us the best directed Bond yet. It is a beautifully shot film with magnificent set pieces and some truly spectacular action sequences. As this is not really Mendes' forte, this makes the final result all the more impressive. Mendes seems to be a director that focusses on character and he has proven to have the ability to distill great performances from his actors. Here he gives us Craig at his best. He inhabits the role with a believable conviction, so much so that he seems intent to make us believe there has only been one Bond so far. I, personally, believed him. Bardem is a fantastic actor and he knows how to play a villain and yet he managed to surprise me here. There is a certain glee in his performance, an insanity hidden in his eyes and physique that make him a memorable bad guy with goals that are refreshingly different from what we're used to in the Bond universe.

The plot is simple, straightforward and as pulpy as it gets, which is in perfect keeping with what it should be. What is completely different is the narrative. This is not really a Bond film, it is a tribute. Throughout the film there is a constant allusion to a meta awareness of the Bond universe, a tongue in cheek wink to the audience and a clear message written in between the lines of the rather simple plot. We're going to pay homage to what has been, in order to create something new. There are numerous references to previous Bond films and we are shown Bond as a relic of those days. He's fallible, a bit on the old side and frightfully old fashioned. He is also determined, practical and has conviction in himself and his country. And that will never change. The enemies will evolve, but Bond will be Bond.

There is so much I loved in this film I could go on forever. These five stars I've given it are not for the objective qualities of the film. There are issues within the plot, some inconsistencies and a bit of static explaining the long running time. No, these five stars are for something else. They are for the feeling of elation I experienced at the end of it and the trip down memory line it provided on my drive home.

My love affair with Mr. Bond seems far from over.

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