So this film is #516 on the top 1000 films of all time, but I'm watching it as it brings me one step closer to catching up on my James Bond films.
How it all goes down:
In James Bond's darkest and most personal mission yet, he is sent to apprehend Raoul Silva, a former MI6 agent who after being humiliated and betrayed by M decides to take revenge on her and MI6.
This film is good. I enjoyed it much over Casino Royale and it was so much better than Quantum of Solace. I liked it so much, as the action was much more immediate. Unlike Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, I actually felt the tension and suspense. I preferred it much more than its predecessors, as it was much more character-driven. Rather than being over-saturated with action sequences and chase scenes, it focused on the backstories of M and Bond. I found it much more interesting learning about the different characters than watching explosion after explosion after explosion. It made the film a lot more personal and engaged me more as an audience member.
Skyfall worked so well, due to how it had such a good villain. I really liked how Raoul Silva was portrayed. He was given a good backstory and good motivations. I could sympathise with his character. In its portrayl of Raoul Silva, I think that this film also gave a more realistic portrayl of what it's like to be a spy. Rather than romanticising British Intelligence, Skyfall explores how spies are essentially just used by their employers and then dispensed off when they've run their course. Javier Bardem played the role very well. Silva was ruthless, yet also quite pitiful and Bardem played the role with a delicate precision. He was intimidating and scary, yet also very understanding. To some extent, I could empathise with his pain.
The action sequences were good, due to how they were used in moderation and were executed well. For example, the shootout at Skyfall was extremely atmospheric, due to how it was brilliantly lit. The dark interior shots complemented by the moonlight helped to keep this scene really dramatic and engaging. I also really liked the chase scene through the London Underground. As a native Londoner, it was refreshing to be able to recognise some of the locations in this film. This also helped keep the film more engaging for me, more so than when it was set in Bolivia or Madagascar.
The musical score for this film was also great with each track fitting the scene perfectly. I was also more convinced by Daniel Craig in this film. He seemed more confident in the role and wasn't falling over himself during the chase sequences. Three films in and this makes perfect sense. 007 has adapted well to having his 'license to kill' and Craig has adapted to his new role as James Bond.
What didn't work:
As a James Bond film, it is only to be expected that your suspension of disbelief is pushed a little far. Whilst this is mostly forgivable for a film of this nature, it certainly worked to undermine the opening sequence where Bond is fake-killed. Being shot by a sniper from a moving train into a river flowing towards a waterfall would kill anyone regardless of whether they're James Bond or not. However, because James Bond is James Bond he survives. This lack of credibility did hurt the dramatic tension of the film. If the film-makers wanted us to think that James Bond was dead, they shouldn't have "killed" him in such a fantastic fashion. They also should have waited longer to reintroduce him and omitted the out of scene segment of Bond attempting to retire. Also, Bond should have died of hypothermia after he escaped from the frozen loch.
With the exception of M, the female characters in this film were largely useless. Other than shooting Bond, Moneypenny doesn't really do much and Severine also does nothing except for sleeping with Bond and dying. As the films are notoriously sexist, it doesn't really come as any surprise that the female roles are so poorly written, but I would like to see the female characters do something more other than having sex and dying.
What was ugly:
M openly admits that she's a bad shot after she misses one of Raoul's soldiers in Skyfall. I don't understand how you get to be the head of MI6 by being a bad shot.
So that's a first: a James Bond film that I can say I thoroughly enjoyed. It kept me engaged, didn't overdo its action sequences and had a great villain. I have to say that I am looking forward to seeing Spectre next weekend. I'm sure it'll be a great neighbour to Skyfall.