Skyfall is the latest film in the James Bond franchise that celebrated its 50th anniversary last October. That is a tremendous accomplishment! For both men and women, the British secret agent has been a very loved and iconic character. Who would trade in their job now for an opportunity to travel around the world to save it? I would do it in a heart beat. Especially when I have the most amazing weaponry at my disposal, and quite a ride to drive around. Not to mention a very brilliant game of poker, and the opportunity to meet the most beautiful women. Over the years, in a span of 23 films, we have come to love his license to kill, and his good taste for a drink: a martini, shaken not stirred. Regardless of who your all-time favorite Bond actor is, the character himself is one that should never go away. This may be the last film that Daniel Craig does as the iconic character, but if there is anything that we have learned about the franchise over the last 50 years, it is that it is long-lasting and adaptable. As the times and audiences change, so does the way each Bond film is produced. So it is very exciting to prepare for what is to come in the near future.
Like many of you, who are casual or passionate fans of the Bond franchise, I have my list of favorite films, favorite Bond girls, and even favorite locations where the film was made. There is still however, one particular focal point that I have yet to see: an origin story. If you pay particularly close attention, we really do not know much of 007. Of course, when you are a spy for the British secret service, you will have some enemies. There have been some very memorable villains in the franchise, but what is more important to note is that if Bond had close relatives or family, they would be in danger because of who he is, and who his enemies are. However, that is the one thing that I would truly love to see on the big screen. No matter how far back in time the director chooses to go, it would be very interesting to see how it is that he came to be the man we know as agent 007. One person that we could say is close to James is the character of M, played marvelously by Judi Dench for the last couple of films. She may be his boss, but in reality, her relationship with him goes beyond professional lines. Whether it is Bernard Lee who played M during earlier Bond films, or Judi Dench, M is a character that has looked after and cared for Bond in ways that any parent would look after their child. So to see their relationship go to a level that had never been reached before is something that was very rewarding to see.
When talking about what inspired him to direct this film, director Sam Mendes talked about drawing inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. That is a very brilliant film to draw inspiration from, and the inspiration is present throughout this film. One particular element of Bond films that has always been a pleasure to see is humor. Each actor that has played this iconic role has brought their talents and abilities to the role, but they have also had their particular sense of humor. There are great inclusions of it throughout this film, but what stands out the most is the level of darkness and intensity. As far as Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond, this is by far the film he has been a part of with the darkest tone. As the movies have come and gone throughout this franchise, there is always that internal expectation that the next one will be better. It is safe to say that Mendes has raised the bar with this film. The brilliant combination of humor and dark tone make this film the suspenseful but entertaining spy movie that we have all come to love in this franchise for the last 50 years.
The inclusion of Javier Bardem in this film is a great one. Not only because he is a very talented and gifted actor, for which he has received Academy Award nominations, and won for his supporting role in No Country For Old Men, but because he is the first actor of Spanish heritage to be cast as the main villain. This is yet another indication of just how far this franchise has come. It has opened itself to cultural diversity in ways that other franchises surely envy. While this film has just opened in the US, and remains new in the Bond franchise, it is a testament to Bardem’s work that he is by far one of the best, if not the best villain that you will see. Granted, there have been some incredible villains that belong in the discussion of the best villains that Bond has had to face. In terms of the depth of the performance, and the ease with which a range of emotions are displayed, Bardem delivers an unforgettable performance as a psychological, demonic, and dangerous villain.
What is so wonderful about Bond films are the subtle hints at the future. As one story ends, there is another that is bound to begin. This is a film that continues that tradition very strongly. Whether this is Daniel Craig’s last performance as 007 is uncertain. However, I believe that it is safe to say that it his most complete and captivating performance. If it is time for him to pass the gun, he has done so very well in the three films that he has done. If he has another film in him, then you can expect another great performance. Judi Dench steals the show in what is her best performance by far. She takes M’s character to levels we had never seen before, and always delivers her very best in the role. Ben Whishaw brings the role of Q back to the series; and what a great return it is. I am very excited to see his character develop even more in future films. Ralph Fiennes is another great contribution to this film. Whether his roles are big or small, he does such amazing work with his characters, and it would be very exciting to see him future films as well. Albert Finney is another supporting actor who adds great heart and humor to his supporting role. Which leads us to the Bond girls. Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe are just stunning, and absolutely shine during their time on screen. So please, order a martini, shaken not stirred, and enjoy the latest in the Bond franchise, Skyfall, in theaters now!