Saturday, 3 November 2012

THE BEST BOND SINCE GOLDENEYE (well, not quite) – The GoldenEye Dossier reviews SKYFALL

ALERT: there are some spoilers here, technical and some things about the plot, but you won’t find extreme spoilers here, so you’ll be able to read without guilt.

Daniel Craig as James Bond watching over London

The day has finally arrived, and this time –unlike what I did with CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE- I made the effort of stay spoiler free (something hardly possible thanks to social networks and forums). I’ve read some comments (some very painful to read) about the film when they were only a rumor, but didn’t dare to confirm it with my worldwide friends in Europe who had seen the film.

As I told in my radio interview with Sebastián De Caro, I tought friendship this time was avobe Bond itself, at least for this year, so I’ve kindly rejected the Argentinean premiere tickets I won without much effort in their official Facebook page contest.

Bond finds out that some things aren't
necesarily best kept underground...
Suddenly, November 1st came, and SKYFALL was there round the corner. As I met my friends and I was heading to the cinemas I wondered: is it gonna be the best Bond since GOLDENEYE? The trailers sold the film very well, plus the cast list including names like Bardem, Fiennes and Finney seemed to confirm it.

I have to start here with a certain spoilerish critique (calm down, it’s not that heavy): the gunbarrel is not at the beginning, but at the end (yet again!). That pisses me off. Its misplacement was justified in CASINO ROYALE, then we had some tongue-in-cheek reason to believe it’d fit at the end in QUANTUM OF SOLACE and yes, it certainly can fit the end of SKYFALL in a sense, but it should have been at the beginning, particularily for a 50th anniversary Bond film which combines both classic and modern touches both modern and conservative fans will like.

As we get into the ten minute teaser we see a spectacular motorbike rooftop chase over the rooftops of that exotic place were FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH was filmed: Istanbul, Turkey. Bond and rookie agent Eve are chasing Patrice, a shadowy hitman responsible leaving agent Ronson heavily wounded and stealing a drive containing a list with all the secret agents embedded in terrorist organizations worldwide. The fight between Bond and Patrice ends atop a train where Bond gets a “bloody shot” from lousy marksman Eve.  Then the beautiful main titles by Daniel Kleinman come to screen, cleaning up the forgettable disaster made by the MK12 in the previous film. Skulls, tombstones, girls, moors and Bond stalked by shadows are some of the beautiful things we see to fit with the lovely “Skyfall” song performed by Adele.

Eve (Naomie Harris) shares some jokes with 007
at the MI6 new digs.
Then we are introduced into the film’s proper plot: MI6 is blown away right after M’s computer and all the secret service network is hacked by an unknown man that has apparently made with the missing list and is constantly posting macabre jokes and games to M. Her authority is constantly challenged by her superior Gareth Mallory, brilliantly played by Ralph Fiennes.

Then, Bond is back from the dead to save M’s reputation and the enormous security breach in the country. And here’s where we traditionalist fans will get to rise a smile by watching the return of Q, this time a nerdy young guy played by Ben Whishaw (we can remember his scene with Daniel Craig in 2005’s LAYER CAKE) who will never make us forget the late Desmond Llewelyn but he brings freshness to the character. We get to see some gadgets. The classic Aston Martin DB5 from GOLDFINGER is there – all I will say is that it’s the same of GOLDFINGER, and not just for the BMT 216A number plate, plus a signature Walther PPK akin to Timothy Dalton’s photo camera-rifle from LICENCE TO KILL, and a radio. The radio is very useful, I can assure you!

Bérénice Marlohe as
French-Cambodian Sévérine
Javier Bardem’s Silva is probably the greatest villain since Robert Davi’s Franz Sánchez, because he’s a first class psychopath: he’s driven by revenge against M because he feels “betrayed” by her – there are some shades of our dear Alec Trevelyan in its first encounter with Bond, plus a slight homosexual characteristic that will remind you to Wint and Kidd from DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (the novel, not the film). Bérénice Marlohe (or “Bérenice Lim” as she’s finally credited in the main and end titles) as Sévérine provides a lot of beauty to the screen and, in her short time onscreen, we discover shades of her unhappy past.
Naomie Harris looks very beautiful too but it’s not the Bond girl you expect to be, although she has a surprise for Bond (and the audience) in the very last minutes of the two hour and a half feature – and here’s another interesting thing to talk about: ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE and CASINO ROYALE, the longest Bonds before SKYFALL, are very good but there are slow paced scenes, unlike SKYFALL, where all the scenes in a way or another are enough to fulfill the audience’s entertainment – the film just flies!

We shall give a special mention to Judi Dench’s M, who gives probably her best acting to the Bond franchise. You will really see here she’s not just another M, but has a maternal instinct towards Bond. And Albert Finney’s portrayal of Kincade, ghillie of Bond’s Scottish residence, brings us to the mind the actual place where Ian Fleming’s James Bond was born.
Daniel Craig makes a great Bond, and we have to mention here that he has been faced off against the original Ian Fleming’s James Bond, which is not a minor challenge. And he does it perfectly, adding some nice one liner humour touches we’ve been missing in the last two films. Nobody can say he’s not James Bond now, and, if you’re a nostalgic missing the Connery era… just wait for the film’s ending.

"Is there anything left of the old Double-O-Seven?" -
Raoul Silva challenges Bond in rather
 nasty game.
Much of the film merits belong to Roger Deakins’ cinematography, who probably is the best photographer Bond has ever had (sorry, Phil!), the so missed Stuart Baird editing and Alexander Witt’s second unit direction, after the fiasco of Matt Chassé & Robert Pearson and Jason Bourne’s Dan Bradley who should be banned for life to do another Bond film, unlike scribes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan who created a great story and script together. Thomas Newman’s music might not be in the scale of David Arnold or John Barry, but he’s a great composer to be a substitute. Thankfully, we got more of the “James Bond Theme” this time. And of course, Martin Campbell was right: Sam Mendes did a wonderful job.

Is it the best Bond since GOLDENEYE? It certainly beats off THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, DIE ANOTHER DAY (I say this being a Pierce Brosnan fundamentalist as somebody called me) and QUANTUM OF SOLACE. By facing it off against TOMORROW NEVER DIES we’re facing it of a film I love much and well, CASINO ROYALE is Ian Fleming’s Bond genesis.
So, it is the best Bond since GOLDENEYE? Yes and no.

9.75 / 10

Nicolás Suszczyk


  1. A fine written review, I agree with most of your points. I´m in the same dilemma between GOLDENEYE and SKYFALL. Will see it again tomorrow and maybe have a definite opinion then.

  2. Good review. Skyfall was the most awaited and hyped flick of the year for sure and the director does not disappoint its audience in any way. It’s not the best Bond film of all-time, but it’s a very good one and that’s all that matters.