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.
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.