It’s a nice change from a megalomaniac wanting to take over and/or blow up the world. This time, as they say, it’s personal. To be sure, viewers get the expected glossy look and sleek story that we come for. To that end, director Sam Mendes begins “Skyfall” with a spectacular chase. Cars and motorcycles, on foot and on a train, the pursuit of a villain is thrilling. Soon the story settles into its focus on Bond and M against MI6 ex-agent Silva. I wouldn’t begin to spoil the fun by revealing more as 007 touches down in several countries with dazzling results.
What I can unequivocally assert is that Dennis Gassner’s production design, Roger Deakins’ cinematography, and Stuart Baird’s editing ensure “Skyfall’s” esteemed place in the Bond entries. The lighting, in particular, dramatically and powerfully interprets mood and setting, using mirrors in fabulously imaginative ways (with a nod to Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil”) and video projection. I also have to praise Thomas Newman’s original music and the sound design for the intelligent use of silence and the judicious use of thunderous sound.
As Bond, Daniel Craig has a gravitas with a more down-to-earth manliness than the suave emphasis with past Bond actors; meaning Craig and this story appropriately resonate with our times. As M, Judi Dench is a marvel. Her stillness, her line readings, her silent reaction shots, all her nonverbals provide a master lesson to any current or aspiring actor. Ben Whishaw as Q, Ralph Fiennes as Mallory, and Albert Finney as Kincade offer solid support. The film also refreshingly presents the lovely Bond women with much less sexism than in the past.
Finally, and crucial to any action adventure thriller, the villain must captivate us, throw us off balance, and project an atypical personality. As Silva, Javier Bardem jolts us with his humor that never undermines his threat. All of “Skyfall” seems to converge on this man and he makes an indelible impression. “Skyfall” admirably continues the Bond legend. At area cinemas.