Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan based on characters created by Ian Fleming
Directed by Sam Mendes
Now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Fox Home Entertainment is the latest entry in the James Bond saga, Skyfall. Ian Fleming’s iconic creation celebrates its 50th year in film with this new entry. Starring the enigmatic and some argue best bond of the series, Daniel Craig, Skyfall doesn’t just serve to continue the series as much as reboot the franchise around Craig in order to establish Bond for another 50 year run, or so Fox and MGM studios hope.
In Skyfall, James Bond’s (Craig) loyalty to M (Dench) is tested as her past returns to haunt her. We open in the middle of an important lifesaving operation that goes drastically wrong. As a result, MI6 is compromised from both inside and out, leaving M to turn to the only ally she can trust, Bond. After emerging back in England 007, aided only by field agent Eve (Harris) and against the wishes of new supervisor Gareth Mallory (Fiennes), immediately starts on the trail of the mysterious Silva (Bardem). But the closer to Silva Bond gets the more Bond realizes Silva has been one step ahead the whole time and his lethal and hidden motives could end up destroying not only MI6, but M herself.
Skyfall, when it was released in theaters in November 2012, quickly became the most financially successful Bond of all time. The film proved Mendes could direct an action film and infuse it with the dramatic sensibilities he has been lauded for ever since his feature debut with American Beauty. The script is written with homage and reverence to the past while keeping a steady and focused eye on ramping up Bond for the future. Skyfall may actually have the most nods to prior Bond films that we have seen in one Bond outing, while completely dismantling and rebooting every aspect of the story at the same time. Talking cues from JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, Skyfall allows for Craig and company to take Bond in a new yet familiar way.
Craig is excellent as the ‘old dog’ Bond here, allowing Bond to be vulnerable at parts while not losing the swagger that is always inherit with the world’s coolest spy. Dench does most of the heavy dramatic lifting here and as usual she is more than up to the challenge. Her M takes on more complexities and gravitas than in any other of her Bond outings as the story features a “sins of the mother” style payout that drags all of M’s decisions into the harsh light of day. Naomie Harris is a pleasant addition to the cast and her playful banter with Bond is sparkling due to an obvious chemistry between her and Craig. Ralph Fiennes seems almost giddy under the gruff exterior of Mallory, clearly excited to be a part of Bond history. And Bardem shines as one of the strongest bond villains in years.
Of course there has to be action and the film delivers there as well. The opening chase is a nail bitter and really kick-starts the film in the right way. Bond’s pursuit of Bardem’s Silva through the underground of London finishes with an impressive bang and the finale on the moors of Scotland delivers as well. Overall it certainly isn’t the action that lets the film down in any way.
Of the disappointments with the film comes the weakest “Bond Girl” in recent history with Bérénice Marlohe’s Severine. Though the role is small and by the end another character emerges as the true “Bond Girl” of the film, her performance is lacking any impact and in fact her departure is handled as unceremoniously her introduction is. Her almost wooden performance could be overlooked if it wasn’t front and center in the weakest segment of the film that takes place in an ‘exotic’ gambling house complete with killer komodo dragons.
The Blu-ray comes with over 3 hours of special features including an excellent comprehensive segmented production diary “Shooting Bond”. The documentary covers all the aspects of the production from the Intro to the fallout of the film through to the future of Bond. Also included is footage from the Red Carpet premiere and two separate audio commentaries featuring director Mendes and the producers.
For Bond fans this should be a no-brainer, Skyfall is the best of the Daniel Craig led Bond films and the best Bond film since Sean Connery held the mantle. For non-Bond aficionados the film works as well. The homages and some context may be lost to the uninitiated, but the smart script and excellently paced story will drag them in none the less. Skyfall on Blu-ray is a solid buy.
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