Deconstruct: to identify and examine the basic elements or parts of something. Reinvent: to make as if for the first time something already invented. These two words cannot describe better Sam Mendes‘s take on the Bond films: he made an entry into the series that honor all the classic elements of it, yet feels absolutely fresh and unique. Not an easy task to achieve after the franchise just reached 50 years. And not only he does, but excels.
The director of films like American Beauty and Road to Perdition was able to jump into the action genre making it look effortless. The opening sequence of this film is nothing but masterful, gripping yet incredibly grandiose in its execution. And we keep getting incredible thrilling moments like that all throughout the film, one after the other, in what is in my opinion the most exciting film of the entire series.
And as much as I appreciated the fun ride, what impressed me the most was just the look of it. Roger Deakin created some of the most stunning cinematography of his long partnership with the director. Some of the scenes are nothing but gorgeous moving postcards from Shanghai, London and Istanbul, on an scale as epic as creative and interesting to watch. A Bond film has never looked like this beautiful.
The acting was another big plus: Daniel Craig is his often spot on very physical and snarky 007,and Javier Bardem as Silva is nothing but a complete eye magnet while on screen. He channels his intensity in new and fascinating ways, creating a villain that is as flamboyant and eccentric as it is intimidating.
Another very welcomed addition were the updated female roles, women in this film actually have more to do than just run around looking pretty. Judy Dench as “M” ads a lot more gravitas and complexity to a character that felt almost as a cipher in previous entries: she has a past, which makes her as empowered as vulnerable. Naomie Harris is an smart and beautiful agent Eve. And it being a Bond film after all we need a damsel in distress, and for that we have the gorgeous Berenice Marlohe as Silva’s girlfriend Severine.
I can’t say enough good things about Skyfall, and it proves one more that when you give a talented director an action film to handle you can end up with much more: just look at what Brad Bird did with Mission Impossible or Christopher Nolan with Batman. I love the idea of expecting more now from this type of films than just car chases or well choreographed fights. The bar has definitively been set higher.
Skyfall is an amazing feature, that explores its characters and what makes them tick, and does it through a non stop exciting ride that feels and looks majestic. There’s enough in it to please both old fans of it and general audiences, with winks and nods to previous entries that are nothing but delightful to watch. Its director is smart enough to know that the best way to celebrate five decades of a character is to bring him into new territory, without loosing sight of what made it so memorable. Mendes set a new path for a franchise that has not only been stirred, but definitively shaken.