Skyfall

Skyfall ★★★½

Certainly, my appreciation of Campbell’s complete reimagining of the more aggressive and even vengeful Bond with Casino Royale (2006) grows stronger as subsequent directors have not been able to top what such entry meant for a Bond figure that had the purpose of adapting the character (and the series itself) to a more modern, technological era. Every decade has understood its main task of creating a Bond that has something to say each decade, from spy-film stunts and dark humor to memories of the past and cyberterrorism, borrowing elements from their time and geographical contexts.

The exaggeratedly acclaimed and appraised Skyfall, often cited as one of, if not the best Bond film of them all, an unusual comeback for fairly popular director Sam Mendes, does its task well not in being a memorable action movie, or even a standout Bond installment (there are easily 10 Bond films better than this one at the least), but in continuing with what Campbell restarted, and interrupting the confusion inside Marc Forster’s head that put the Bond franchise into a danger of decreasing quality. His filmography didn’t even provide any sign of significant probability of success, resulting in one of the worst Bond films of them all.

Mendes’ execution and pacing is, to say the least, energetic and committed. Almost every frame is captured with a good eye. The intensity of action sequences against the character development and the building of tension is distributed accordingly. Notorious is the night fight scene with Patrice in the Shanghai building, and one of my favorite scenes for introducing the villain in a Bond film ever. For the latter, the timing is perfect. With a single shot and a sinister anecdote that might actually be a made-up fable to reveal his sinister agenda and psychology, the awesomely Spanish Javier Bardem comes out of a building with Craig tied on a chair while a single uninterrupted shot is used for the exposition of his rat story mocking at the self-destructive nature of humans resulting in the degradation of the law of “the survival of the fittest”.

On another note, a recent Blockbuster movie trend seems to be that legal organizations (“legal” in the universe of the film, of course) that have already been introduced and established in previous films, are ultimately infiltrated and challenged to their very foundations to elevate the intensity of it all, like an attempt to provide something unexpected that can somehow compensate the lack of surprise derived from everything having been already presented before. That is why S.H.I.E.L.D. had to be turned upside down in the recent Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), and why the one and only superbly British MI6 was stripped from its security underpants. The question that follows, however, is: How can you maintain that impact with balance in subsequent films? That might be answered in this year of 2015.

With beautiful shooting locations and a climax that places Bond in his very origins, the film succeeds at making a dozen nods to previous installments while maintaining the new rules set by Campbell, pushing ‘M’ to her limits, exploiting the villainous acting abilities of Bardem, and filming one of the greatest explosions in the last 10 years (yup, I am a kaboom addict). Certain scenes shall rest in oblivion while others will stand out. As a whole, it stands solidly as one fine recent delivery in this complicated twist that Campbell applied, but it has now posed serious challenges for Mendes’ next effort to live up to that hype. Can that ever be possible?

71/100

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