Of all the James Bond movies out there, Daniel Craig is the best James Bond, and Skyfall is the best James Bond movie.
Sean Connery is the most well-known James Bond actor, having started the franchise in Dr No. He was hired because he walked like a cat and looked great in a jacket. He was imposing. George Lazenby came in 1969, became the second Bond, and had a great performance, but he was no Connery. Roger Moore took up the mantle and tried to sweeten up the role, making a rough character soften with a smirk and a nod. Then we had Timothy Dalton, who wasn’t the first pick to be the new Bond. It was Pierce Brosnan, who would take up the role years later, but the damage was done – James Bond lost a lot of his bite as a movie role.
There are those who have their favorite James Bond movies, Goldfinger, Thunderball, Dr No, etc, but for a movie franchise to have 23 movies in 50 years, there are a few stellar films. Bond became long in the tooth, heavy on smirking, gadgets, overly designed spy mobiles, and boring villains. Bond started the spy craze in the 1960s, it took the reign and set the bar for others to hopefully reach. And the 1970s and 1980s happened, and Bond became an action movie with a 60-something actor who could barely throw a punch.
Daniel Craig rose to prominence with the violent Layer Cake, producers of the Bond franchise saw this and drooled to have Craig be the new Fist Of MI6. I have yet to read any of the James Bond novels, I have savored only the films. I grew up watching these films and had dreams of being the super-spy in exotic locations, using every bit of skill to hunt down criminal masterminds before they carved the world apart like a pumpkin. With the delivery of Craig came the muscular and brute James Bond. He was silent and brooding, a quick punch and kick to the baddies, while straightening his tie. This is the role Craig seemed born to do – the ultimate role for an English Actor.
Skyfall is the third Bond film Craig has starred in, and I think the best. The movie starts with a focus on Bond entering into Room 29 which leads into a chase that spans car, motorcycle, and fight atop a moving train. Bond pulls no punches, using a Caterpillar Excavator to tear into a passenger cart, clawing his way to the baddie. This is how the movie starts, it grips you by the skull and forces you sit up, shallow breaths to digest Craig striking again and again.
Skyfall is more than just a James Bond tale, with this tale about the development of MI6, the old guard being challenged in modern times. Both M and Bond are under scrutiny for their methods, their approach, trying to be replaced by data analysis, challenging their instincts for more practical approaches. The antagonist of this film, Raoul Silva (played beautifully by Javier Bardem), finds ways to needle into the solid fortess of British Intelligence, making M and Bond question themselves about their roles, and surge from the bottom of their souls to endure.
After leaving the theater, I realize Craig’s performance is transcending the role, similar to the depth and character Robert Downey Jr brings to Tony Stark/Iron Man. Every moment is precise, the visuals are toxic, thanks to Sam Mendes and his deft attention to detail. Judi Dench is stalwart and delicate at moments, Berenice Marlohe is not just the baddie’s girl that is the stimulus to Bond, but shows her fear, her concern. Every actor brings something to their roles, filling up this film with memorable scenes, quotes, and images. Mendes mixed up the perfect drink for Skyfall, and I want seconds. And thirds.
I give this movie five out of five Nerd Skulls!