Reviewed by: Max Crawford

"This is the best-looking Bond film ever made."

"Where are we going?" "Back in time". So goes one of several conversations between M and Bond in Skyfall which are as much commentary on the film as they are anything to do with the (relatively simple) plot. MI6—and M in particular—are under attack, and Bond is tasked with finding out who's responsible and putting a stop to it. A forced retreat to older premises following the partial destruction of the modern MI6 HQ provides plenty of scope for fan-pleasing references to earlier films in the franchise, as well as serving as a fair descriptor of the direction in which Sam Mendes has taken Bond.

If this all sounds a bit reflexive and navel-gazy, it is. As the franchise turns 50, seasoned Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have taken the opportunity to celebrate the best-loved elements of the series. Skyfall is a treat for Bond fans from start to finish, with layered references that will reward repeated viewing. Javier Bardem instantly joins the ranks of classic Bond villains with his portrayal of rogue agent Silva, managing to convincingly portray a powerful and terrifying figure with surprisingly little screen time. He doesn't appear at all in the first hour of the film, which is largely spent building up Bond's relationship with M. Dame Judi Dench handles a lot of the heavy lifting here, with a central role which she handles magnificently.

Copy picture

Let's get one thing out of the way: this is the best-looking Bond film ever made. By a mile. Roger Deakins' cinematography is impossibly, sickeningly good. If the noirish opening shot of a silhouetted Bond stepping from the shadows into a splash of light and a razor-sharp plane of focus doesn't convince you of this, wait for the Shanghai skyscraper fight scene. It manages to fold a Man With The Golden Gun reference into a wider reference to classic Bond opening titles in a way that will make anyone who's ever picked up a camera before vomit with envy. On the surface, it's also a thrilling, beautifully choreographed fight scene.

This is the majesty of Skyfall: despite it being a Bond film about Bond films, you don't have to have seen a single Bond film before to enjoy it or follow the plot. If you like car chases and gun battles and people jumping off things on motorbikes, you won't be disappointed. If you like explosions there is a point at which two things exploding cause another two larger things to explode which in turn cause a vehicle to explode a little bit and then crash and then explode more. There are action sequences involving a digger, a helicopter, and not one but two trains. If you want effortlessly kinetic chasy action-adventure, in other words, you won't be disappointed. If you want a film with intelligence and substance to it, you won't be disappointed there either.

Reviewed on: 27 Oct 2012
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Things get personal as James Bond has to defend MI6.
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Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan

Starring: Daniel Craig, Bérénice Marlohe, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris, Helen McCrory, Ben Whishaw

Year: 2012

Runtime: 143 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK, US


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