Skyfall: Easily the best Bond film ever made!

Published: November 12, 2012
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The secret to the spy film’s quality lies in the talent of its director Sam Mendis, who has made a compelling espionage film on its own merit and not just as a worthy instalment to the franchise. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Daniel Craig earned his license to play James Bond with engaging performances in his two previous outings as the iconic British intelligence agent. Here in the dark and intelligent Skyfall, his performance is killer and he owns the role, clearly establishing himself as the best James Bond since Sean Connery.

This is all the more fitting as Skyfall is easily one of the best Bond films ever made.

The secret to the spy film’s quality lies in the talent of its director Sam Mendis, who has made a compelling espionage film on its own merit and not just as a worthy instalment to the franchise.  Yes, the film is so good that it isn’t overshadowed by anyone, not even a household name like James Bond.

Handing the reins of an iconic character on film to an auteur can yield unpredictable results. While filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s realistic approach was godsend for the Batman franchise, Ang Lee’s artistic style resulted in near disaster for the Hulk (2003). Sam Mendis, whose poetic vision helped earn American Beauty (1999) numerous awards, seemed like an unlikely choice for Skyfall, but has ultimately balanced his panache with the visceral demands of a Bond film quite successfully.

Mendis’ Skyfall is beautifully shot, with some gorgeous looking scenes that clearly benefit from his love of deep colours. One scene in China stands out especially, where Bond takes on another agent at night on the top floor of a tall complex. This scene is quite a sight to behold, as the shadowy silhouettes of the two characters do hand to hand combat on a dark breathtaking backdrop which is coloured in bluish hues.

skyfall james bond china

The director shows real skill at building genuine suspense, turning up the tension with deliberately paced drama.  Meanwhile the action in the film is distinctly old-fashioned, lacking in gimmicky gadgets and over the top action set pieces, and featuring realistic gunfights. Not only that, but Skyfall skips on the traditional Bond girls as well.

That doesn’t mean the film lacks for romance however. James Bond has a romantic partner in Eve (Naomie Harris), who is a rookie agent working on the field alongside him, but unlike previous films, there seems to be genuine endearment from the brooding spy. Then, there is the hero’s relationship with M (Judi Dench), who is played in a serious performance. Judi Dench, a terrific actress, is normally limited to secondary roles in Bond films, but here she is written a very strongly developed character to display her fine talents.

Naomi Harris, Daniel Craig, Skyfall

M, of course, is the dignified head of the MI6 agency. Here, she is shown to be a burdened leader who has had to take some very difficult decisions over the years. In Skyfall, these decisions have caught up with her, and she is left defending herself to the Intelligence and Security Committee chaired by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), as they question her about agents being killed after an information leak. While M tries to convince the world that agents like Bond are still necessary, her organisation suffers from some startling terrorist attacks, where she is the actual target. If there is one person who understands her, it is Bond, and the relationship between the two develops quite nicely, and is the real heart of Skyfall.

Bond films have had some memorable villains, but Skyfall carries one the one of the creepiest in Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). The psychotic Silva is a former MI6 agent who holds a deep grudge and goes to unsettling lengths to settle the score. Silva is played amazingly well by Bardem who has a very haunting screen presence in Skyfall.

Surprisingly, the film has some humour to offer as well! At one point Silva really gets Bond’s attention, when he attacks what the agent loves most. No, I am not talking about M. The recipient of this unwanted attention is Bond’s classic Aston Martin DB5, which fans will recognise from Goldfinger (1964). It is the one moment in Skyfall where James Bond seems truly angry.

Don’t touch Bond’s car!

PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Read more by Noman here or follow him on Twitter @Pugnate

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ahmed

    Completely disagree. Film was too slow-paced and the plot extremely stale. Bardem was completely wasted as the villain. Sam Mendes is a great director but the Bond genre is clearly not his forte.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    To be fair, I wrote ‘easily one of the best’, rather than easily the best. :) But it is all good. Oh and awesome that you guys got that night image still. Very cool. Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Ugh. I hate the movie. Worst Bond film ever. Like, ever ever.Recommend

  • Parvez

    A Bond movie without a iconic Bond Girl…………………..how can that be good ?
    Daniel Craig makes a good Bond but I think he looks somewhat like Putin (a Hollywood version) and that rankles.Recommend

  • Liberal

    Certainly NOT the best bond film! It was a drag and came across as more of a bollywood action flick. Disappointing product. And a totally skewed review.Recommend

  • Ammar

    Easily the ‘worst’ bond movie ever. The movie was a drag, didn’t have any of ‘bond’ elements, was more like any other hollywood action flick. Too slow. Too boring. Too predictable. The only moderately good thing about the movie is the soundtrack.Recommend

  • Nandita.

    I loved the movie. It was awesome fun!Recommend

  • Qasim

    i dont think so..it could have been much much better…didnt like it that much…a very weak plot.Recommend

  • http://Www.google.com Saeed swabian

    To wonder what best noman ansari watched in this movie,a distributor he may be.Recommend

  • Xessive

    Wow, not sure what all the hate was about. I loved it. It was a refreshing take on Bond. It wasn’t about a ridiculous plot for world domination but a ridiculous plot for revenge! Twisted revenge! It was a much more personal story, delving into the history of James Bond and his origins.

    It’s great to finally have a memorable Bond villain again! Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Silva was engrossing. He drew resentment but at the same time sympathy.

    I don’t even remember the villains from the last bunch of Bond films; except maybe Casino Royale but even then the villain wasn’t exactly memorable, though Le Chiffre was played well by Mads Mikkelsen.

    Also, there was a bond girl! Eve! Played by Naomi Harris! If you watch to the end you’ll realize she’s not just any Bond girl!Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    The best bond movie was easily Die another day..Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Parvez:

    I think my sentence was confusing. There is a romance for Bond, but she isn’t the traditional bimbo style Bond girl. :P Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    The best is Casino Royale. However, I think the bond girl in this one , is one of the prettiest bond girls. Recommend

  • http://glenns-busy-corner.blogspot.com/ Glenn Ryall

    Just watched the movie at Atrium on Saturday morning. Found the story line weak, i was surprised to find no Bond girl, but accepted it as the movie went on.

    The part of the main antagonist was somewhat limited, i think if he was given a more stronger role, would have turned the movie around. Recommend

  • http://www.iruinmovies.com IRuinMovies

    Skyfall has so many illogical plot elements. Like why did the grounds keeper and M use a flashlight when they were walking through the field in the middle of the night. Its like waving a sign to the villains “Hey, over here! Come an find me so the plot can continue!”

    Help me write up all the plot points that don’t make sense for SkyFall and other movies at http://www.IRuinMovies.com.Recommend

  • Brutus

    Totally disagree. It wasnt even a typical bond movie, it was just another action movie. All the elements of an iconic bond movie were missing in this one! Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Noman Ansari:
    No you were very clear the first time, not your fault at all…………….and my comment stands. Recommend

  • Mark

    The best bond film, Really !!

    It was rubbish from start to finish. The worst bond baddy in history. My dentist is more scary.

    Please think about the story before you make the film and waste millions of $/£

    I’ve seen better Channel 5 films to be honestRecommend

  • carlcolen

    first bond movie i ever sell asleep at SKYFAIL!!!Recommend

  • Eivind

    Easily Craigs worst performance as Bond. Nowhere near the excellence of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. It is more on the level with Die another day. A similar theme was made a lot better in Goldeneye with a much better villain. Silva was an infantile villain and the plot was very weakly developed. I do not understand how Sam Mendes agreed to make that film! The film does have some good action scenes, but that hardly helps.Recommend

  • Marian

    Well, I have been a Fan since 1962.
    Mr. Craig seems he has to try and change a good thing. He does not have the charm or charisma of the other Bond’s, seems he cannot speak much at all.
    Killing “M” in a dirty old Church.
    Being on assignment in Turkey with a Woman (Agent and he does not even know her name
    She turns out to be Moneypenny, really.
    Another disappointing Bond from the Craig department.
    One gadget, a transmitter, really.
    So as a consolation I watched The Living Daylights again – far superior.Recommend

  • Mariam Khan

    No way….its the worst bond movie ever….didnt meet the expectationRecommend