From the start I’m going to say I think this is probably in my top 4 Bond movies (though I’m not sure where in that top 4) alongside Dr. No, Goldfinger and GoldenEye and that is for one major reason that I think has been hampering the series for a while – that of its own logic and ‘universe’.
From the start we are still clearly in the ‘grittier’ world of Daniel Craig’s Bond, as established in Casino Royale, but it is soon evident that is not all, as we get hints of the Bond of old coming through across the movie with various levels of obviousness.
This could end up making for a very imbalanced movie, but, thanks to the deft work of director Sam Mendes, it all holds together excellently and the Goldfinger-esque Aston Martin DB5 is a prime piece of evidence for this (saying more would only lead to major spoilers I’m afraid).
Despite my overall enjoyment of Skyfall by the end, I will be the first to admit that, following an excellent opening action scene where Bond is involved in a chase across rooftops and onto a train, the film seems to take a while to get going.
Once Bond puts on a tuxedo and heads to a casino, though, things start to pick up and the Bond universe really begins to coalesce in a manner it hasn’t since at least the mid-80s (with the exception of GoldenEye) thanks to the frankly genius inclusion of a pit of Komodo Dragons.
It’s soon after this that we meet the villain of the piece, Javier Bardem’s Silva, who harks back both to Bond villains of old and another recent iconic screen villain, Heath Ledger’s Joker, to create the most memorable ‘bad guy’ from a Bond movie in a long while.
Silva is another element that seems to solidify something of the ‘new’ Bond universe, which I see as being somewhat less self-conscious than it has been since Roger Moore’s heyday.
What I mean by this is that, while it is undeniably a more realistic world than that of Moore’s era, it has regained something that is undeniably Bond and it doesn’t seem bothered by itself – loosing it’s almost post-modern nature but gaining a lot of confidence with it.
As well as the villain some new supporting cast members are introduced, alongside Judi Dench’s continually excellent M, in the form of Ben Wishaw’s Q, a new take on the character that seems to combine Matt Smith’s Doctor with Desmond Llewelyn’s classic take on Major Boothroyd and could become a classic character, and Naomi Harris as Eve who sets up a great rapport with 007 from the start in a way I can’t wait to see grow.
With a climactic third act that turns some classic Bond clichés on their head and introduces us to whole new aspects of the character’s past, present and, potentially, future, Skyfall stands apart from its two closest predecessors in a way that really has returned Bond to his pedestal as a current and relevant action hero on his own terms, just as he should be.