What can be said about the latest James Bond epic that has not been already said before? Sufficient to say it starts off with a chase over the rooftops and railways, a chase that defies probability with each second of its continuance. Not only is health and safety abandoned, the death-defying antics have such a low chance of ever taking place that by the time the first 5 minutes have passed, we’ve already lost all feline nine lives with many other species chucked in. Nevertheless, it’s James Bond and that’s what we now expect to see.
From a personal point of view, I didn’t think I would ever be able to listen to a James Bond song any better than Shirley Bassey’s ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ but Adele comes very, very close. I also didn’t think a composer would be good enough to match John Barry but Adele and Paul Epworth again come very near to the same standard. You also couldn’t find a better match for the bad guy with Silva played by Javier Bardem. He was the psychotic assassin Anton Chigurh in ‘No Country For Old Men’ and was he a chilling character? Silva is almost like the Joker from ‘Batman’ but again, improbability strikes because one wonders how he would be able to form an organisation from people with an entry prospectus of death. I wouldn’t want to join his outfit, no matter how good the pension rights!
Rehabilitation of Daniel Craig as James Bond. Let’s face it, ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Quantum Of Solace’ while being in the okay range were not absolutely stunning but something has changed to make Daniel much more acceptable, simultaneously making ‘Skyfall’ into a blockbuster. What was that? I think it was the helicopter spoof with Her Majesty, the Queen! What higher recommendation could you get? Ever since that escapade, his credibility has soared enormously and now people are eagerly waiting for the next movie. Daniel Craig is portrayed as someone on the wrong side of 40, ravaged by his exertions of the past but despite all that, when asked to deliver the goods, he comes out on top. This is great for all the old guys out there, deemed to be sidelined but now reinvigorated by James Bond, they can hold their heads up high and stride out into the modern world.
Without giving the plot away, everybody knows that Judi Dench as M makes an excellent exit, likewise another old lady which has been with James Bond since the times of ‘Goldfinger’. Still with its ejector seat, Aston Martin had a kick and it went out in style. As the new M, we’ve got Ralph Fiennes, a competent and efficient replacement and probably one of the best actors of the day. You know that MI6 will be safe in his hands in the future.
‘Skyfall’ had some marvellous scenery, including Glen Coe, with its towering mountains and moody glens, giving a good advertisement for tourism in this country. In the old days, we didn’t have CGI and the stunts such as the upsidedown bridge crossing in ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ had to be done for real. The stunts and escapades are now much more spectacular but, in doing this, they become more unbelievable which is a shame. They go beyond the bounds of probability, taking James Bond movies into a new sphere of existence. For example, the scene of an underground train crashing through from another level was just a bit over the top, so to speak.
In essence, ‘Skyfall’ is a big improvement on the last two efforts and while it suffers from a lack of believability, it is right up there with everything else that’s been produced today. Pure fantasy it may be but it is excellent entertainment. Some people don’t like Daniel Craig as James Bond because he isn’t the same as his predecessors. A different animal and he is just like an animal with his predatory nature in chasing down villains, but in ‘Skyfall’ he becomes more three-dimensional than the cardboard cut-out he was in ‘Casino Royale’.
This beggars the question, who is the greatest James Bond of them all? I would say that in relation to the novels, perhaps Daniel Craig comes closest but, for charisma, I suggest Roger Moore steals the show. With a long pedigree going back to ‘Ivanhoe’ and ‘The Saint’ plus many others, he came into the part as an experienced actor who could give his own credibility to the part. He was a more rounded character, able to impart humanity and humour while still being serious when the crunch came. ‘Moonraker’ being my favourite of them all, the conflict with Jaws was one not to be missed. However, that’s only one opinion. Who do you think is the greatest James Bond?
(region 2 DVD: pub: MGM B006X03YT0. 137 minute film with minimal extras. Price: about £10.00 (UK) if you know where to look)
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