Skyfall sees Bond refreshed and re-energised

By Clarissa Forbes

UK, 2012
Director: Sam Mendes
With: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judy Dench, Naomie Harris

 


It’s hard to think of a film which has opened to the same levels of anticipation and expectation as Skyfall – the 23rd Bond instalment promises an in-depth look at Bond, complex supporting characters and ‘Bond girls’ for the 21
st century. Remarkably, Sam Mendes has been able to deliver on these promises, offering a film which is modern, fast-paced and exhilarating.

At the centre of the film, and it could be argued the Bond franchise, is a tension between traditionalism and modernity. The Bond films of the past with sinister Soviet ‘bad guys’ and helpless female characters seem out of place in the modern world – Mendes acknowledges this shift and presents us with a Bond who is undergoing a transformation, albeit somewhat reluctantly. The character is masterfully handled by Daniel Craig, who is well-versed in shifting from brooding Alpha males to vulnerable tortured characters. 

Similarly, the villain of Skyfall is not a menacing megalomaniac, but Assange-esque cyber-terrorist who seems, at once, terrifyingly more powerful and deeply flawed than any of Bond’s previous villains. Despite his extremes, Javier Bardem provides the character with humanity and is able to inject moments of light relief into this otherwise breakneck adventure.    

It is clear that Mendes has listened to the criticisms levelled at female roles in the Bond series. Judy Dench’s M plays a prominent role in Skyfall, providing the driving force behind Bond’s resurrection. The ‘Bond Girls’ have been similarly made-over – Noamie Harris is captivating as field agent Eve and it seems likely she will continue to feature in further instalments.

Mendes appears to have achieved the impossible: Skyfall is a film that will satisfy loyal Bond fans while answering the questions of asceptical new audience. But with so much of the legend of Bond explored in Skyfall, the only question is: Where does Bond go next?