Skyfall – Ten Arguments for it being the Best Bond Movie Ever

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by Howard Decker @HowardTheDeck on November 10, 2012

in Lists

10. Perfect Marketing

The marketing campaign for Skyfall is a textbook example of ‘less is more’. For the first time in recent memory, I went into a movie having no idea what to expect. Yes, Skyfall is a Bond movie, so to a degree you know what you’re getting (more on that later), but none of the trailers or TV spots gave away any plot points or action scene climaxes. All I knew was that Bond would adjust his cuff link at some point after leaping onto a moving train.

As a point of reference, when the Gotham football game began in The Dark Knight Rises, everyone watching knew it would end with the entire field collapsing underneath the players, a result of a Bane-led terrorist attack. It was still a great scene, but by the time we saw it in the context of the film, it had lost its edge. The Skyfall marketing campaign made no such misstep.

 

9. “Skyfall” is One of the Best Bond Songs Ever

Simply put, Adele was born to do a Bond song. As far as film-based songs go, I’ve definitely enjoyed my share of them, typically more so after I’ve seen the movie. In this case, it was the reverse, as the early release of the song helped cultivate my anticipation of the film.

None of the song’s lyrics or tone give away anything about Skyfall’s plot or resolution, yet it captures the essence of the film brilliantly. A perfect Bond song, this is a tangible asset to consider when ranking the best Bond films of all time.

 

8. No Easy Comparison

Skyfall doesn’t immediately lend itself to comparisons to any other movie. Where some might have noticed parallels between Casino Royale and Kaleidoscope, or thought action scenes in Goldfinger reminded them of North by Northwest, watching Skyfall didn’t immediately invoke thoughts of any other film.

There are undoubtedly parallels to other movies somewhere- after all, at this point so many movies have been made that it’s virtually impossible for writers and directors to avoid showing any influence by their formative works; but Skyfall moves along at such a consistently satisfying pace that you’re never left alone with your thoughts. It’s entertaining from start to finish, and for many different reasons.

 

7. The Villain is Outstanding

Much has been made of the nature of the Bond villain and their customary over-the-top schemes. Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil is an exaggerated interpretation of an amalgamation of Bond villains (mostly Blofeld); but the scary thing is that it’s not that exaggerated. Skyfall’s villain has his fun quirks, but overall he feels like a realistic threat with understandable motives and attainable goals.

Skyfall’s Silva will go down as one of the best Bond villains of all time. In 50 years, we’ve never seen anything quite like him. Javier Bardem has said he was honored and excited to take on the role of a Bond baddie, and his elation is brimming over in his performance. When an actor is truly having a good time with a role, it’s infectious (see Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy). It makes the other performers step up their game, and it increases the audience’s buy in. Bardem’s enthusiastic but leveled performance pushes this film to the front of the Bond class.

 

SPOILERS AHEAD!! 

 

Silva’s removal of his cheekplate/dentures gives him the perfect momentary ‘Bond monster’ quality. In that moment, he transforms from a criminal to a twisted, deformed, vengeful creature, and it’s an awesome spot. Had he left the cheek plate and false teeth out from the reveal on, it could have become comical or overdone, so the quick show and replace was the perfect touch. It lent a physical, tangible trait to his motivation for revenge; which leads me to this:

 

6. The Evil Plot is Unlike Any Other

…and it’s believable. Over the years so many Bond villains have had aspirations of global domination. Skyfall’s villain has a significantly less lofty goal, which makes it much easier to invest in.

As with any action/adventure movie, suspension of disbelief is necessary for full enjoyment, but to a much lesser degree here. If you go into a movie wanting to find ways to pick it apart, you’ll find ways to pick it apart. Skyfall offers no glaring invitations to do so. If you have a list of this film’s faults, then I’m convinced you never wanted to like it from the start.

 

5. It’s Real-World Scary

No, not ‘jump out and frighten you’ scary, but chilling with regard to real-life applications. We’re back to the evil plot- I know; I’m gushing, but it’s deserved.

While entertaining to watch unfold, were we ever really scared of Blofeld’s Omega virus? But a rigged election or investment crash as a result of a simple and whimsical (“boop!”) point and click- now that’s terrifying. Silva has the ability wreak havoc on the world from the comfort of his island tech bunker, with no target unreachable. In today’s world, this is much scarier than a villain who wants to steal spaceships.

 

4. It’s got a Great Q

In this installment, James Bond finds himself assisted by the youngest version of Agent Q yet, played by Ben Whishaw (who also appeared with Daniel Craig in Layer Cake). Bond’s initial reaction upon meeting the newest Q is one of the film’s more humorous moments.

While pairing an aging Bond with an upstart young techie Q worked on a humorous level, it’s also functionally prudent. MI6 needed to fight fire with fire, and this Q brought the appropriate skill set to help combat the threat. You know what they say, never bring a gun to a computer fight.

 

3. It Advances the Over-Arching Bond Mythos

Even with the above spoiler warning, I won’t wade too far into listing the events at the end of Skyfall that set up changes for future movies. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m referring to. If not, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The changes certainly have me excited for the next installment.

 

2. It’s Realistic

The plot and settings in Skyfall are more realistic than those of many Bond films. It’s conceivable (if not likely) that tracking a global cyber-terrorist would take an agent to Shanghai. Besides the forsaken (due to a brilliant Silva plan) island, the only other action locations are England and Scotland, hardly exotic by Bond standards. Director Sam Mendes didn’t toss in any exotic locales just for the sake of ‘Bond-ing up the story’.

 

Daniel Craig has portrayed the most realistic James Bond yet. An actual top secret operative woudn’t have a very fulfilling life, as they are devoid of family and friends, and likely leaning on their profession to fill some gaping hole in their existence or development. Mission after thankless mission, the stress and physiological miles would take their toll, and Craig’s bond is starting to show some of that tread wear. Which leads me to:

 

1. Daniel Craig is a great James Bond

That’s right I said it. While most Bond superlatives are reserved for Sean Connery (smoothest, sexiest, etc.), Craig has come into his own in Skyfall. He makes you legitimately care about the man behind the number for perhaps the first time ever.

Admittedly, it does not look fun to be Craig’s version of James Bond. If that fact detracts from your enjoyment of the Daniel Craig Bond films, then I’ll assume you didn’t like the Christopher Nolan Batman movies either. I’d sure as hell rather be Keaton, Kilmer or Clooney’s Bruce Wayne than Christian Bale’s.

Skyfall is a great Bond film in the same way that Nolan’s bat trilogy were great Batman films. Grittier, darker pieces rooted in reality.

Skyfall’s Bond isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for this stage in Bond’s cinematic lifespan. He’s now more business, less fraternizing- and that seems fitting for where he’d be in his career. If Sean Connery was the young adult sew-your-wild-oats Bond; Daniel Craig is the seasoned grown up. He’s by no means above mixing business with pleasure, but his priorities are clear. I thought I’d have less support for Craig as a great Bond, but perhaps the results of this poll show otherwise.

 

 

  • Pingback: The Bond Month Blog-A-Thon Finale!! « Fogs' Movie Reviews

  • http://fogsmoviereviews.com Fogs

    First off, well done. Nice piece. Good list. I agree in many ways.

    Personally, I’m not quite ready to hand it the crown just yet, and in fact I’m even debating between it and Goldfinger for #2 (CR is my #1) but its hard to suggest that any other Bond film comes close.

    The Villain IS outstanding. There, I’m much more tempted to rewrite all my rankings and demote everyone a spot. Bardem’s Silva was incredible. As you say, he had just the PERFECT touch of that Bond villain deformity. SUCH a great Bond tradition… and they explain it SO well. Gahd! So well. So yeah, he’s the best, I should edit that post now… LOL.

    “Admittedly, it does not look fun to be Craig’s version of James Bond. If that fact detracts from your enjoyment of the Daniel Craig Bond films, then I’ll assume you didn’t like the Christopher Nolan Batman movies either.” There’s a leap in logic there that leaves out any degrees. I would argue that I wish Craig’s Bond were having more fun, and I hope they find a way to lighten the tone over his next two movies. That doesn’t mean I dont love the movie, and certainly I wouldnt extend that rationale to other franchise… nice try though Socrates. :D

    I feel that there has to be a meeting point between this dark gritty Bond and the fun bon vivant of the prior incarnations. They tried to pay some credit to that at least with the Macau casino scene (seriously? Just thrown in to “Bond” up the movie, no other reason for it to be there)

    Anyways, excellent points, great read, thanks for the linkbacks (I edited this in to my last Blog-A-Thon post, I assume youre cool with that :D ) I have a tough couple of days ahead of me deciding where to put this in my rankings, 1-3. Thanks for the input.

    • http://www.rediscoverthe80s.com Jason aka SockofFleagulls

      I’m with you, Fogs. Some excellent points made in the list. I’m glad they stepped away from the Daniel Craig Bond we’ve been used to…although at the same time, wasn’t it a bit weird watching Craig in a more traditional Bond role? (My favorite moment has to be the ejector seat threat to M.) I gotta tell ya that I’m “hanging my hat” that the next Bond will actually be better than Skyfall as to points #3 & #4 in the above list.

      As to point #8 in the above list…I wasn’t real impressed with the Home Alone final fight.

      • http://fogsmoviereviews.com Fogs

        Still think that “Home Alone” comment is great. LOL. I may steal it :D

        I liked the ejector seat moment too. GREAT between the two of them. I didnt think it was weird seeing Craig do the more traditional Bond stuff, I just wish they would do more of it!

        • http://underscoopfire.com Howie Decker

          Funny part is, Tank and I looked at each other when M was doing her thing and said “Home Alone”. Which then led to a string of comments about Micro Machines and paint cans.

          • http://twitter.com/SockOfFleagulls Jason Gross (@SockOfFleagulls)

            Ha! Okay, glad I was not the only one who thought it.

            I’m really not trying to pick a fight with these things. I really enjoyed it, but when my mind is thinking about other movies besides the Bonds it holds me in check for immediately declaring the best yet,

  • http://www.rediscoverthe80s.com Jason aka SockofFleagulls

    Oh and another to point #8…first Mission Impossible was centered around a NOC list that matched agents to their real identities….come to think of it, did they ever recover the list in Skyfall? I really dont remember. Seemed like they jumped right into revenge on M.

    • http://fogsmoviereviews.com Fogs

      LOL!!!! No, they never did!!! :D

  • http://eclectikrelaxation.com @eclectik

    10 and 9 has nothing to do with the movie itself

    8. All the nods that they attempted made me wish I was watching the older movies

    6 and 7. Agreed.

    5. I guess

    4. No. What made his 3 seconds of screen time great? I thought it was wack and blew.

    3. That “twist” was another attempt to shat on the Bond legacy IMO, ruined a great plot point

    2. This is the same as points 6 and 7

    1. I just disagree completely …

    There was a lot of things in this movie that were done for no reason at all i.e. Silva showing his monster face … so?

    The movie was a decent movie, it was a decent movie … not a even a good Bond movie, if they had named it anything else it would’ve been better
    I will say its the best of the 3 Bond films

    This reminds me of the TV show list where the old classics are thrown aside for the new shiny toys

    I will stay in the minority in saying the writing and the actor has ruined the franchise … James Bond is no longer the super cool spy that people wanted to be like
    He’s now a Super hero action star … and that’s sad.

    Good post though.

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