Friday, 11 January 2013

Films of 2012 - No. 6

Films Of 2012 - No.6

Skyfall (Dir. Sam Mendes)

I am a huge James Bond fan. I may have lost some of the encyclopaedic knowledge which I held as a teenager, but I have watched all of the 22 films a near unhealthy number of times. It's fair to say that the release of a James Bond film is one I very much look forward to.

Therefore, the prospect of a James Bond film directed by Sam Mendes with an all star cast and crew was incredibly exciting. I was sure it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but I'm happy to say that Skyfall is magnificent.

After seemingly falling to his death whilst in Turkey, James Bond returns to the UK after MI6 is attacked by a new terror.

The key to Skyfall's ($1 billion) success is the excellent script which delivers everything expected of a James Bond film in a refreshing manner. Whereas previous adventures have built a story around locations or set pieces, Skyfall is driven by a compelling and emotional narrative rarely seen in the franchise (Casino Royale and On Her Majesty's Secret Service being two notable exceptions).

The cast is faultless. Judi Dench thrives on working with the best material of her Bond career and Daniel Craig convinces as both the action hero and the suave spy. However, it is Javier Bardem's villain Silva who makes the greatest impression. Camp, ruthless and menacing, Silva is a very original villain but also one which remembers its place in Bond history.

Some were worried that because of his roots in theatre and more traditional drama, Mendes' film would be light on action. Thankfully, this isn't true. The action sequences are entertaining and well placed, which helps with the pacing of the film (something which Quantum of Solace struggled with). Mendes boldly takes Skyfall and it's final set piece, which in Bond lore has to be the most overblown of the film, into enthralling new territory. This leads to an unforgettable climax and seals Skyfall's position as one of the year's best films.

A special mention must go to cinematographer Roger Deakins who ensures that the exotic locations (and dingy castles) dazzle on the screen.

Would Deakins be involved without Sam Mendes? Probably not.

Would Mendes have agreed to direct if the script hadn't been as strong? Probably not.

A great script can attract the best talent. Simple as that.

Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson brought together an A-list cast and crew to create a film which, in the year of 50th anniversary celebrations, tipped its hat to the previous films and proved that the franchise has a place on cinema screens for many years to come.

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