Over the weekend, after much waiting and anticipation, James Bond returned to the big screen in Skyfall. After rumors that the franchise was going to die after writers’ strikes and studio closings, Skyfall had a lot to prove. Hearkening back to the classic Bond we all know and love, Skyfall steps up to prove that the James Bond franchise is not dying, in fact is has been brilliantly resurrected.
The theme of Skyfall can be summed up in two words: revenge and resurrection. While these two themes can often weave together, they do battle with one another in Skyfall. In the opening scene of the film, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is betrayed and left for dead by the MI6 head M (Judi Dench), putting 007 out of the field and off the grid for three months. A direct attack on MI6 pulls Bond back into the fold, pitting him against ex-MI6 agent Raoul Silva(Javier Bardem). Also betrayed and left for dead by M, Silva is dead set on revenge, attempting to attack M’s job and life before actually killing her. Armed with a list of the true identities of undercover MI6 agents, Silva destroys the reputation of MI6 as well as M herself. While Silva guns to destroy M, Bond does everything he can to save her, taking him around the world on an adventure worthy of being a Bond film.
Resurrection and revenge battle each other throughout the film, represented by two betrayed agents. M gave the orders that resulted with both James Bond and Raoul Silva being left for dead. Though both were left for dead by the same woman, the two agents handle it differently. Silva dedicates his life to revenge and dedicates each and every resource he has to destroying M. Bond on the other hand chooses a path of resurrection. Attempting to rise up and become the 007 he once was, Bond dedicates each and every resource he has to protecting M. Revenge and resurrection do battle throughout the film and I’d venture to guess that you know what wins.
With Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, the franchise started to stray from the classic Bond structure. Casino Royal was an outstanding film and can easily stand on its own merit but when you break it down, its not classic Bond. Quantum of Solace, written during the writers’ strike, strayed further from the structure, playing out more like a Rambo movie as opposed to a Bond film. Skyfall brought us back to the classic Bond structure I’ve been thirsting for. Daniel Craig proves what a bloody brilliant Bond he is, walking through the scenes with the swagger and confidence of James Bond. Visiting exotic locations, battling impossible odds and charming any woman into bed, Daniel Craig seems to come straight from the pages of Ian Flemming with martini in hand. We are even given some insight into Bond’s childhood in this film, letting the audience stick one foot in the door to James Bond’s past.
The film has more classic elements than just a classic Bond. The villain is a sadistic genius complete with endless henchmen, a secret fortress and a facial deformity. Classic characters return including a new Q (Ben Whishaw) who was my favorite part of the film. Playing off the age difference between Q and Bond, Whishaw gives the character a dry, witty edge that blends perfectly with the film. Ralph Fiennes plays Gareth Mallory, sent to determine if the double O division is outdated. Naomie Harris appears in the film as a provocative field agent who works with Bond in a number of different scenes.
Skyfall is a melding of classic Bond and a new era. The content, dialogue, theme, story and direction of the film all work together to prove that the classics still work, there just needs to be a well placed, modern twist. As the film ends, it becomes clear that the Bond franchise isn’t going anywhere. In fact, is has just rebuild its crumbling foundation. I give Skyfall an 8.5 out of 10 and already can’t wait to see what adventure James Bond goes on next.