My favourite scene in Sam Mendes’ ‘Skyfall’, the return of 007 in James Bond’s 50th anniversary year, is when Bond first meets his adversary, the rather blond and evil Silva. Pitted against each other, Javier Bardem proves that blonds do have more fun, even as Daniel Craig tries to distract the audience from the fact that he is clearly outgrowing the part of the British spy by repeatedly taking his shirt off!
While they might be placed at opposite ends of the moral spectrum, Bond and Silva have one thing in common – their maternal, oedipal affection for M (Judi Dench). This forms the crux of much of the story of ‘Skyfall’ which culminates in an epic battle on the stark Scottish highlands.
But not before there has been a chase on the rooftops of Istanbul, a fight on top of a moving train, a near miss death for Bond, a psychedelic assassination in a Shanghai high rise and the tragic death of a key player.
The action mostly lives up to Bond expectations. The let down is the choice of the Bond girls – Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe. Their interactions with Bond are formulaic and lacking chemistry.
The introduction of a younger Q played by Ben Whishaw offers comic relief and sets up an interesting dynamic.
Bardem redefines villainy and is absolutely electric, providing a perfect foil to Craig’s stoic blond Bond with mysterious blue eyes. This is one of the more emotional Bond movies. Like many recent superhero films, it exposes the hero’s vulnerable side.
And, in spite of an iffy third act, ‘Skyfall’ lives up to the Bond mandate of sweeping you along on crazy adventures across the globe, into MI6 headquarters and out to the streets of London, leaving you rather breathless.