Bond is back

Skyfall stirs together new and old Bond and causes a shakeup

Skyfall stirs together new and old Bond and causes a shakeup

When Casino Royale came out in 2006, most people praised Daniel Craig’s first foray as James Bond as a gritty reinvention of the character, even if — as directed by Martin Campbell — the film resembled the Bourne series.

After the failure that was the next Bond film, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, there was a need to reevaluate the series yet again. The financial misfortunes of production company MGM gave Bond’s keepers the time to come up with a good plan and, fortuitously, release the next film, Skyfall, on the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No.

The result is a thrilling blend of the new Bond with the old, a film that seems utterly modern even as it goes back to basics, one that moves the series forward while paying homage to the past. In short, it’s the best Bond film to come out in a long, long time, and could even compete for the best one ever.

 The result is a thrilling blend of the new Bond with the old, a film that seems utterly modern even as it goes back to basics. It might be the best Bond film ever.

Director Sam Mendes and writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan have accomplished this by focusing on who Bond should be — a flawed character who’s nonetheless fiercely loyal to those who deserve his loyalty.

In Skyfall, Bond deals with the effects of age on him and M (Judi Dench) and the impertinence of youth from young agent Eve (Naomie Harris) and a new Q (Ben Whishaw). Q makes a welcome return after being absent in the first two Bond films in which Craig starred.

Bond, naturally, also has an evil mastermind with which to contend, this time coming in the form of Silva (Javier Bardem), a man whose computer genius knows no bounds. While that’s become a familiar subplot in other recent movies, it feels somewhat fresh here because of how Bardem chooses to play the character.

He’s flamboyant and maniacal, but — as his back story bears out — for good reason. He challenges Bond in new and interesting ways, so that the end stakes truly seem high and not just as a way to get you to the end of the story.

Craig has truly made James Bond his own, and because he’s signed on for at least two more movies after this, it will stay that way for a while. He displays brute force, elegance, charm and empathy in equal measures, and each emotion is as believable as the next. Although Bond’s antics can make him seem almost superhero-like, in Craig’s hands he stays grounded, which helps the audience stay invested in his fortunes.

By the end of Skyfall, the filmmakers show that they’re willing to take some calculated risks for the long-term good of the series. So the film is not only a success in every way, but it’s also a great harbinger for things to come.

Skyfall movie
Calm under pressure is just one of James Bond's many great traits. Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Skyfall movie
Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures