After watching “Casino Royale”, my immediate comment was “Now THAT was a bond movie”. After watching “Quantum of Solace”, the immediate reaction was “Now WAS THAT a bond movie?”. After “Skyfall” i can safely say “Bond is back: anew but very familiar”
4 years ago, i wrote a fairly negative leaning review for “Quantum of Solace” which can be read here: http://irreverentlytimed.com/2008/11/09/review_quantum_of_solace/
in that review i wrote: “some things you expect in a Bond movie are sadly missing. The signature theme of 007, which is easily one of the most identifiable title themes is NEVER played in the movie. Bond never introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond”. No Martinis, shaken not stirred. And what i find most unforgivable, no Q.”
While watching “Skyfall” it felt to me like the makers had the same issues with QoS as i (and a lot of fans) had. The very first thing we hear in the movie is the Bond theme. He introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond” in Macau, while “Shaken not stirred” is never mentioned, it is there plain as day for everyone to see and best of all, Q is present – or at least a Q is present as John Cleese is replaced by Ben Whishaw.
Skyfall shows us the stakes from scene one. When a movie is willing to start by killing off Bond in the first scene (he gets better) it deserves your attention from that point forward. The plot is pretty similar to “The Dark Knight” in a lot of respects and even features a similar interrogation scene midway through the movie. A disc containing the information of all undercover agents has gone missing and it is up to MI6 to get it back.
The movie is globetrotting (as with all Bond movies) with scenes in Turkey, Shanghai, Macau, London and Scotland. The action setpieces are well choreographed and shot and the climactic action scene is brilliantly paced, but suffers from 2 false finishes before the real one.
The performances are top notch, from Daniel Craig to Javier Bardem (with ridiculous hair) to Judi Dench and even Ralph Fiennes, all of them give brilliant performances.
The actual point i wanted to make and the main reason i wanted to write this review is below:
The movie feels like it is forging a new path for Bond while still staying really close to what makes Bond Bond. This is seen clearly in the scene where Bond meets Q for the first time, after handing Bond a gun and a radio Q says “Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t do those anymore” in a clear allusion to “Goldeneye” and showing us that this Bond is moving in a different direction. But before the scene ends the new Q, like Llewelyn and Cleese before him says “Bring this back in one piece” firmly establishing the Q-Bond relationship to be the same as in previous incarnations. Most of all, by the end, all the pieces to take the series forward are in place. The old is acknowledged and given its due, but the new is what will keep the series moving and i for one am glad to see this and hope for Bond 24 and 25 to come along soon.
Final verdict: 3.5/5. Definite recommendation. Well worth a watch.