Tuesday, November 6, 2012

SKYFALL

Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, 
Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, 
Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw

Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex


 

The James Bond franchise turned 50, this year.  I'm 44 years old so yes I grew up watching most of the films featuring this slick British agent provocateur who fought against outlandish villains, bedded beautiful women, likes his martini 'shaken not stirred' - all done under Her Majesty's secret service. 

Growing up, I always associated James Bond movies with fancy gadgets, exotic locales, Bond girls, the familiar James Bond theme music (which is now currently playing in my mind!).

It also came with amazing soundtrack composed of songs made famous by artists like Matt Monro ("From Russia with Love"), Shirley Bassey ("Diamonds are Forever"), Sheena Easton ("For Your Eyes Only") and Duran Duran ("A View to a Kill") to name a few.

So there is no way I would have missed  Daniel Craig as 007 in the 23rd offering of the longest running film franchise of all time.  It has to be said that I absolutely adore Daniel Craig in all of his films so seeing him as James Bond is quite an intensely thrilling experience!

In the first few minutes of "Skyfall", Bond is in hot pursuit of an operative who might have the list of all the secret agents of MI6 scattered all over the world in vital covert operations.  Fighting on top of a moving train, he is shot and presumed dead.  Then cue in the title soundtrack sang by Adele accompanied by dazzling graphics and you know you are in for a treat.

Director Sam Mendes then takes Bond to Istanbul, Shanghai, Macau as well as London with the able guidance of M (Judi Dench) who is shown in an entirely different light. She came across as more maternal than the usual no holds barred, no nonsense tough as nails head of MI6.

Bond is given only the bare essentials instead of the fancy gadgets.  He is provided a finger print enabled gun and a 'radio' tracking device which was developed by the new Quartermaster or simply known as Agent Q (Ben Whishaw) who quips "what did you expect, an exploding pen?" when 007 was skeptical.

It is 2012 so the villains are now known as "the Shadows". Not menacing despotic terrorists who wants world domination.  These villains operate using the latest technology to their full advantage to wreak havoc.  Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva was brilliant, as always. I believe he was a bit too over the top but still quite effective.  Although, his whole I was betrayed by my employers so I would throw a tantrum and bring down the entire agency premise was a tad flimsy, if you ask me.    

Yet it is during the pursuit where most of the beautiful cinematography comes into place. The gripping chase on the rooftops of Istanbul, Turkey. The well choreographed fight scenes shot in silhouette, the London scenes of the new HQ of Mi6 and the final 'battle' scenes in breathtaking yet bleak Scotland.   Several wide angle night shots with only the lights from the skyscrapers of Shanghai and the scenes in Macau - were all well conceptualized and projected very well on the screen.

But beyond the exotic locales, the acerbic and witty dialogue, the action filled sequences and the villains lies the true heart of the film - James Bond himself.  Daniel Craig settles in quite nicely in his 3rd offering as 007.  We are shown a less detached James who is more in tune with himself and also he comes to terms with his past.  For once, he isn't just a spy killing machine but more humane, less stoic.  Quite vulnerable as he is mostly hit with indecision.  Yet at the same time he is angrier thus exhibiting a raw hunger coupled with enough chutzpah to skillfully perform his duties.  

Lastly in an interview Daniel Craig was asked:
Q: There’s been a lot of talk about how this has personal stakes for Bond.  What does that require from you in your performance that maybe makes it more personal than the previous things we’ve seen?

Craig: I don’t think personally, it’s about the character and how he lives the experience.  Again, just harkening back to the script, through a lot of hard work I think we’ve kind of got together a script that has a really strong bed rock of a story and something for all the characters—of which there are a lot in this movie—to sort of experience.  There are very personal stories in it and hopefully the audience will get affected by them and moved by them.  It’s just a good acting job to do.

He was right. I was truly affected by the personal stories and declare that "Skyfall" is one of the best James Bond movies I've seen.   Excellent acting job, indeed!!!

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