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Bond back to form 007

Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

007

Special to The Propector

   With director Sam Mendes, a compelling script by Neal Purvis, John Logan and Robert Wade, and an electrifying cast anchored by Daniel Craig, the latest James Bond film celebrates the franchise’s 50th with a fresh, exciting and relevant offering. “Skyfall,” an instant Bond classic, breathes refreshing life into the series.

An exciting opening sequence sees Bond (Craig) along with agent Eve (Naomie Harris) chasing a criminal who has stolen MI6 technology, across the streets of Istanbul. This perfectly introduces us to the film before the main titles roll. The stunning and psychedelic opening credits roll after that, set to Adele’s “Skyfall,” a classy and great tune that sets the tone for the rest of the film.

The main plot kicks in when Bond is put back into field work and finds out that a terrorist named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) is targeting not only MI6 but M (Dame Judi Dench) as well. The film deals with the idea of the old and new clashing, rebirth, and the ties to the past while moving forward. In that way “Skyfall” feels refreshing while it also harkens back and nods to previous entries in the franchise.

Visually, Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition”) and cinematographer Roger Deakins (“The Big Lebowski,” “True Grit”) have crafted a beautiful and seductive film. The scene in Shanghai with Bond investigating atop a building or the hypnotic sequence in Macau are both filled with striking imagery. Everything from the tight editing, the big scale action sequences, to Thomas Newman’s thrilling score, make “Skyfall” a superb addition to the Bond canon.

Mendes proves more than capable of handling a big spy thriller like this. The action sequences are marvelously orchestrated, suspenseful and engaging. Mendes’ experience with story and character ultimately provide “Skyfall” with its heart, and it is Bond’s and M’s core relationship that is tested in the film. The writers also get to explore Bond’s character and his place in the world with enough weight while giving him that fun and charisma that Bond is known for.

Craig, truly at the top of his game, brings his brooding, suave and charismatic portrayal of 007 with expertise in a fantastic performance. Dench, provides the presence and gravitas to the film while Bardem’s Silva is without a doubt one of the most memorable, deliciously twisted, compelling and fascinating Bond villains of all time.  An interrogation scene between Bond and Silva that happens in Silva’s lair is unnerving, beautifully staged, brilliantly acted and will definitely become one of the most talked about scenes of the film, thanks in large part to the sublime performances by Bardem and Craig. The entire cast is fantastic, from Ralph Fienne’s Mallory (the less we say about him the better), Ben Whishaw’s young Q, to the fast and witty banter between Harris and Craig and even Albert Finney.

There are some parts of the film that could’ve benefited from more screen time to get to know a little bit more of the character. For example Severine (played with lethal sexiness by Berenice Marlohe), who leads Bond to Silva, could’ve used more screen time. Or maybe cutting up 10 minutes of running length would’ve benefitted as well, but they truly are minor issues since everything else that is great about the film overcomes it.

There is a lot to enjoy from “Skyfall” as a Bond movie, but most importantly it works perfectly as a standalone entry though it provides nods (Istanbul, Q, Aston Martin DB5) and surprises that Bond fans will be able to recognize, creating a thoroughly entertaining and vibrant near reimagining of the Craig Bond era. They have brought back Bond in a bold, refreshing and wholly satisfying manner that definitely stands at the top with the likes of 2006’s triumphant reboot “Casino Royale.”


Oscar Garza may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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