Editorials

James Bond: From Worst to Best – Skyfall

Skyfall
Capture

On the 50th anniversary of the Bond series, director Sam Mendes stepped in and delivered the most well-shot, technically polished, thrilling, and engaging entry yet. While Skyfall may not be the “fun” Bond flick we have come to expect, it is certainly the one of the most interesting. Daniel Craig really nails it in this one and continues to bring a heart and soul to 007. Judi Dench returns as M here and gives her best performance in the series – of course, the script also gives her a lot more to do. The real winner here is Javier Bardem, who plays the villainous Silva. Even though he is not introduced until over an hour into the film, he makes a huge impression and Bardem is clearly having a blast playing him. We had the great Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, who was sinister and intelligent, but not very threatening in a physical way for Bond. Then we got Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene in Quantum, but he was not necessarily intelligent and was definitely not a physically imposing figure to go up against Bond. Silva is a great adversary for 007. He is charismatic, extremely intelligent, and can be a match in a fight. He is basically everything Bond is, only evil. Every scene Bardem is in, he steals, and his introduction is evidence alone. If there was ever a performance in this series that was worthy of an Academy Award, it is this one.

Berenice Marlohe

The film starts out with arguably the best opening shot of the series and continues with an absolutely stunning action sequence as Bond and (soon-to-be-revealed Moneypenny) chase down a terrorist. What starts as a car chase turns into a shootout, into a motorcycle chase, into a shootout on a train, into a fistfight on top of a train. This all leads up to Adele’s fantastic titular Bond theme and one of the best opening credits sequences. This movie really starts off with quite a bang, which is great because there really isn’t another action sequence for another 40 minutes or so. This does not bother me at all because what we do get is tremendous. Bond was injured in the field, has now come back and has to prove his worth. This is where Craig really excels. He puts on his tough demeanor, but still allows a glimpse into how fragile and damaged he really is. We also learn here that M’s career is really taking a hit and the prime minister has sent Ralph Fiennes (his character, not the actor himself) in to figure out what their next move is. Fiennes is always great and it’s a joy to watch him here play an average guy (rather than Nazi or serial killer), his rapport with the cast is also spot-on. I always think of this film of really being a series of great set piece after great set piece. While each sequence may not be full of action, it is full of fantastic filmmaking, acting, cinematography, and character.

I mentioned earlier that this feels like the most technically polished film in the series, and that is largely due to Roger Deakins’ cinematography. Every shot of this film is extraordinary and often beautiful, the fact that this lost the Oscar to Life of Pi is sinfully disappointing. One of the reasons I keep going back and watching this film is because of how fantastic it looks on blu-ray. Another reason this film is so far at the top of my list is because it’s really the one that brings a big name director to the franchise. Sure, you could say that about Marc Forster…but I don’t. Having Sam Mendes on a project like this really gives me hope for the future of the series and I would love to see someone like Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve, or George Miller come in and add their own spin to the franchise. Nolan especially has expressed his love for the Bond films and it has been apparent in his films as well, notably Inception.

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Skyfall isn’t what we want from every Bond flick, because it is so serious and not very playful, but it’s the shot-in-the-arm that the series needed. It’s a perfect way to celebrate 50 years of the series, really bringing it into the modern era. There is also no better way to end this film than the way they did, especially now considering how they followed it up with SPECTRE. I still remember walking out of this movie and just being pumped up. The following months just had me in front of my TV watching the old films again…and that’s exactly what these movies should do. While this is probably the best and most well-made Bond film, my #1 is really just what comes to mind when I think about 007.

Worst to Best so far:
24. Live & Let Die
23. The Man with the Golden Gun
22. A View to a Kill
21. Die Another Day
20. Octopussy
19. Moonraker
18. Diamonds are Forever
17. Quantum of Solace
16. Licence to Kill
15. The World is Not Enough
14. You Only Live Twice
13. For Your Eyes Only
12. The Living Daylights
11. Thunderball
10. Tomorrow Never Dies
9. SPECTRE
8. The Spy Who Loved Me
7. Dr. No
6. From Russia with Love
5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
4. Casino Royale
3. Goldfinger
2. Skyfall

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