Bond is back … not that he really left.
Director Sam Mendes is up at bat in this 23nd go round with Britain’s greatest spy James Bond. This time the theme of betrayal and abandonment permeates in the background. Mendes have visited the subject before in Road to Perdition. In that movie a mob father’s doubtful faith in his son makes a crucial decision with disastrous results, (interestingly enough starring Danial Craig). In Skyfall the Bureau chief M ( a take no prisoner Judi Dench) also makes a sacrificial call that nearly cost Bond his life. Rethinking his priorities about the unit and especially M herself, James takes a long sabbatical away from the agency.
He’s forced back in operation when a hard-drive disk containing information of secret operatives under cover is stolen, threatening a shut down of the organization and M’s forced retirement. Coming back into the spy game has James a bit rusty in his usual physical skills as well as failing psychological sessions especially childhood memories of something called Skyfall, leaving doubts from intelligence and security head, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) , but confidence from M about the ability to handle said mission. The person responsible is Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) , a rogue agent ( Shades of Goldeneye! ). Decked out in blond hair and suited white tux and a bit of effeminate style, probably the most interesting Bond villain in quite awhile. No global megalomaniac like Goldfinger Or Blofield, no; this is somebody hurt physically and emotionally. The screenplay pulls a sense of homo-eroticism between Bond and Silva, where he massages the captured agent’s injuries in a gentle manner, Challenging perceptions of Bond’s masculine sexuality, subtlety planting the possibility he would fuck for Queen and country regardless of gender.
Throughout the film, questionable decisions by M both past and present propels the plot of the story, in some way these events are more about M than Bond, but Mendes made sure he gives a heaping shitload of baggage for just about everybody involved.
Craig continues to impress as Bond, a steely visage coupled with a not so pretty face, more of a street thug than GQ Pierce Brosnan was. No humor retorts for this spy, it recalls the attempt of Timothy Dalton’s take on a serious 007 decades ago.
The cinema photography by Roger Deakins is possibly the most gorgeous looking yet in the whole franchise. In one sequence Bond fights an adversary, silhouetted behind glass walls with neon lights in the background, the glowing shadows creates visual beauty to the choreography. Another is the lair of the villain, not a opulent palace of wonder, but some island or scow adrift in the sea, Its decayed and muddling look is a nice contrast to the usual hideouts.
There’s enough eye- winking references to earlier films of Bond, especially to the Sean Connery era, if anything in a retroactive or quasi alternative universe, this film actually is actually the first official start of the series…and that is fine by me.
I give this your 4 best Absolute Martini—shaken; not stirred.