I'll get right to the point. I loved Skyfall. By far, it is the best made Bond film I have ever seen. Sam Mendes was a great choice as a director. It's evident that he wanted to make his mark, yet he has plenty of respect for the series (or at least the producers kept him in line). We were treated to a solid cast, and interesting story, a memorable villain, good action, and fantastic cinematography.
Warning: This is a post-viewing discussion of Skyfall. If you haven't seen it yet, turn back now.
- Sam Mendes has been open about the fact that Skyfall was influenced by Christopher Nolan's work on The Dark Knight. I think some of the clearest influences are the overall dark tone of the film and Javier Bardem's portrayal of Silva. Do I care? Not at all. We've seen much borrowed from Nolan, and I'm sure we'll see more. Thomas Newman’s score even has a hint or two of Hans Zimmer's work. Again, no complaints here.
- I agree with the seemly quiet minority who would still like to see a resolution to the Quantum storyline. Bond has had recurring villains in the past (Blofeld). He chased down SPECTRE for over a decade, but since has primarily faced single villains Quantum can fill that void today. I do like my Bond stories to stand on their own, but the even a slight connection of a larger criminal organisation could be interesting. Then again, I didn't find Quantum that interesting but was curious to see where it went. In any case, I don't like the fact that the organisation is currently a loose-end of the series.
- It's interesting how much Craig's version of Bond has aged over the course of three films. Sure, we had the MGM bankruptcy to delay us, but I’m not really referencing the age of Daniel Craig, I find it interesting that Craig's Bond has gone from rookie to a veteran top agent in three films. I take this as a sign that Sam Mendes made the Bond film he wanted, but I’d bet that the producers had a hand in returning Q, Ms. Moneypenney, and that familiar office for M.
- Once of the most fascinating twists on the standard Bond formula, was the use of M in the final act. Usually by this point, it's not uncommon for James to need to evade the villain before succeeding, but Judi Dench took the place of the Bond girl that usually needs saving. I felt that this use of M was more than just a novelty and led to a stronger emotional connection to the story.
- It’s fascinating that this film seems to spend more than half of its time in the UK. On paper, Skyfall seems like a smaller scale adventure for 007, but that doesn't matter when you have a strong story to fill in any gaps. Please don’t take my comments about a strong story to mean a perfect script. The holes in this plot are well-documented; but I didn’t find any to be distracting (OK, maybe Q connecting the laptop directly to the MI6 network was a little much).
- I loved all of the nods to the series. The updated characters were nice, but it was fun to see theAston Martin and hear that classic theme. After years of MI6 feeling very vague and ever-changing, it was nice to see M in the classic office. I do not dislike many of the updates made to the series, but the nostalgic moments were a fun compliment to the updates in each of the characters. The crew won't win any awards for costuming, but even Daniel Craig’s wardrobe reminded me of the early Connery days. Speaking of Connery…
- Rumor has it that the caretaker was written to be played by Sean Connery. It’s pretty clear in the finished film, but I’m glad Albert Finney got to play the part. He did a fine job, and Connery would have been a huge distraction.
- I wasn't crazy about the aging theme and "lost-a-step" comments. It seems like Pierce Brosnan's films played that out. I understand how it fit in the story (M specifically); it’s just unfortunate that it feels a bit out of place in the context in the last few decades of 007. This is an aspect of the film that leads me to say that Mendes made the movie he wanted to make. It doesn’t quite fit with where the franchise has been going for it. When judged on its own, Skyfall benefits from these choices. When judged as part of the series, it doesn’t quite fit.
- I do think that Skyfall cements Daniel Craig in the discussion of best actors to play James Bond. Perhaps this will become a generational thing, but in my opinion Sean Connery is the only actor to have a series of performances that's compare. Each actor brought something to the role, but the first and the latest Bonds really own the character.
Overall, I think Skyfall is easily one of the top five Bond films. I can’t give it much higher praise, because now it’s time to see how the film holds up over time and multiple viewings. We’ve never seen a film in this franchise with such critical acclaim and box office success. What is certain, is that I wouldn’t want to be responsible for the next entry in the series. Sam Mendes' successor will have very large shoes to fill.