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Saturday, Sep 25, 2021

Latest Bond is good. Really good.

The latest installment of the James Bond films centers on Bond confronting a cyber-terrorist named Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) as he attempts to exact revenge on M (Judi Dench). The film has a heavy focus on M’s relationship with Bond, as it is mirrored by her history with Silva. M is portrayed as a mother figure for Bond and Silva, who wants revenge after M abandoned him years ago. He feels like a child who has been abandoned by his mother, and he basically says as much.
The cast in this film is phenomenal. Daniel Craig turns in a surprisingly complex performance as Bond. His previous outings have shown Bond to be a coldblooded assassin. This time, he is a much more complex character who is attempting to understand what direction he should take in his life.
M is faced with a similar decision. Judi Dench has played M since “GoldenEye” in 1995. This time she gives M a worn but resolved persona. She is tired of the life she leads but understands that there are few others who could perform her duties as well as she can. Dench is a great actress and this is one of the strongest performances of her career.
Raoul Silva may be one of the greatest Bond villains of all time. Javier Bardem is mesmerizing in this role. The manic, unhinged nature of Silva is a stark contrast to the cool-headed Bond. Bardem’s subtle mannerisms contrast the hammy, over-the-top nature of Silva, adding complexity to the character.
Ralph Fiennes and Naomi Harris both turn in strong performances. Harris has great screen chemistry with Craig and the banter between the two is very enjoyable. Fiennes is great as well, though his character, Gareth Mallory, does not leave a huge impression due to his limited screen time.
The soundtrack is among the best of the Bond franchise. The classic Bond theme is still prevalent in many scenes, but the film also features a remade version that adds a modern twist to the theme. Adele performs the theme song, “Skyfall.” The song is a soulful and brassy song that can easily hold its own with the classic Shirley Bassey Bond themes.
This film was released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the franchise. “Skyfall” is a film about nostalgia and the passage of time. It features many callbacks to the early Bond films, including the Aston Martin DB5 spy car from “Goldfinger.” Even the theme song is a callback to the older films.
“Skyfall” may also be the most thematically strong film in the franchise. Both Bond and M are forced to confront their age and the fact that the world around them has changed. Bond is forced to confront the fact that he is getting older and that his methods may no longer work in the modern age. His grim resolve to continue is contrasted by Silva’s insanity and embracement of modern technology. He shows Bond that with a few keystrokes he can do more damage than Bond could in months. Bond and M are referred to as relics of the Cold War era, obsessed with playing in the shadows and using outdated forms of subterfuge. The film uses M’s defense of her methods to point out that their methods of espionage may be even more relevant today than they were in the Cold War. The enemies of the modern wars are faceless terrorists obscured by shadows instead of large and powerful nations.
“Skyfall” is not only a great James Bond movie; it is also a great movie. The film is strong enough to appeal even to those who are not fans of the franchise. As a standalone film, it is still extremely enjoyable. As a James Bond movie, “Skyfall” represents the culmination of 50 years of Bond’s exploits.


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