BEST. BOND EVER. I know it’s a big call, and will have some fans baying for my blood, particularly Sean Connery diehards, but bear with me.
Sam Mendes’ first foray into the Bond franchise is a stunner, right from the obligatory action packed opening set piece. As James fights a vicious (and viciously hot) bad guy in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, complete with breathtaking motorbike chase, and then does battle on a train, Daniel Craig’s supreme confidence in the role shines through, with a cheeky adjustment of his cuff links mid-furore. And then Skyfall takes a fascinating twist, exposing Bond at his most vulnerable.
Mendes (American Beauty, Jarheads, Revolutionary Road) was always going to deliver a thinking man’s Bond. While the stunning scenery, from a rain-lashed London to an ethereally neon-lit Shanghai, grand set pieces and bordering on cheesy lines are all present and correct, where this film immediately delivers over the dreary Quantum of Solace and, let’s face it, most Bond movies, is sheer depth of character packed with intimate moments
Judy Dench is commanding as ever as M, but there are hints she’s getting too long in the tooth for the job, and that shameful secrets from her past may be catching up with her. Bond himself is looking rougher around the edges, strained by continual losses and the realisation of just how expendable he is.
Newcomers Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris add breadth to Bond’s coterie, with the latter a particularly impressive, sassy addition, and the geek chic Ben Wishaw revels his role as the new Q, complete with Scrabble mug and a minimal approach to gadgets. No invisible cars here folks.
This is a Bond for our times, with Mendes channelling Christopher Nolan, and a less than invincible MI6 less fighting to keep up with the shadowy forces of Javier Bardem as suitably creepy Silva. The bottle blonde bad guy chews the scenery with gleeful aplomb, working an unexpected sexual chemistry with 007.
And yet Skyfall finds plenty of time for the fan boys, with subtle nods to previous incarnations, including a fantastic little personal family plot twist for Bond that takes us right back to where the cinematic series began, in unexpected fashion. Even the credits amaze, and thank the lords for Adele’s theme song bringing back the big, bold Bassey sound.