Film: Skyfall boils Bond down to basics


Last updated 19:08 23/11/2012

MUCKING IN: Film-maker Sam Mendes has brought a welcome level of grit to 007, Skyfall being the best Bond this side of Sean Connery.

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So Mr Bond, it would seem all you needed was less clutter and more direction in your life.

REVIEW: The general consensus among film critics is that Skyfall is the best James Bond movie this side of Sean Connery (not including Never Say Never Again of course) and I will emphatically join the chorus.

Sure, Daniel Craig had already got many of us back on side with Casino Royale, which saw 007 remodelled as a grimmer, more complicated secret agent for our times. Where Pierce Brosnan was playful, Craig was petulant.

But for all of Bond's quiet cool and the franchise's exotic mythology of lovely locales and ladies, Quantum of Solace was as much a noisy, bloated hog as any 007 picture in the past 40 years.

Skyfall doesn't just get the series back on track, it mines the essence of what first made the character compelling and builds on it. Its story is relatively simple, its tone urgent and its characters' motivations primal and pure.

Much of this can be attributed to director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road), who - as in most of his films - keeps the focus on relationships; Bond and his matriarchal MI6 employer M (Judi Dench), and M and Silva (Javier Bardem), a maniacal former agent whose cyber-terrorism provides Skyfall with much of its narrative thrust.

The obligatory Bond-isms are still present, but one gets the feeling Mendes tries to dispense with much of the baggage in the first 30 minutes.

For some fans what follows may taste like a drier martini, but for movie-goers agitated by far-fetched car chases and product placement, it's pleasing to get past the silly stuff and enjoy a quality action movie full of grit, cunning and - in the case of a fight scene played out against a neon Shanghai skyline - exquisite beauty.

Skyfall has an entertaining story, a wicked bad guy and a Bond girl worth caring about. It also moves the franchise forward in terms of bolstering Bond's supporting players (Ben Whishaw as Q, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris).

Damn, if only all Bond movies did this.

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