In the twenty-third installment of the James Bond series, Skyfall, tension surfaces between Agent 007 (Daniel Craig) and M (Judi Dench) after a questionable decision out in the field. When MI6 is targeted by a mysterious figure from the past looking to settle a score, Bond's loyalties are put to the test as he comes to terms with his role in the agency and the technological advancements changing the old game of espionage.
Right from the get-go, the film emphasizes the point that the Bond era is changing—an aging spy caught in the middle of newfangled devices, young recruited operatives, and a revolutionized enemy circa 21st Century that poses a threat on a global scale through a means of cyber-terrorism, as opposed to the outdated ransom note. The characters themselves even touch upon the subject of old tradition versus new techniques multiple times, almost to an unnecessary and forceful extent, but somehow manage to still package together the gift that is Skyfall to both fans of fifty years and first-timers of the franchise.
The opening title sequence of the film upholds the same level of artistry and visual intrigue found in the previous Bond releases, this instance having the Skyfall theme song by Adele croon against a kaleidoscope of images tinged with retro finesse and at least four close-ups of Daniel Craig's smoldering gaze. The title sequence is, by far, one of the most noteworthy aspects of the film; Adele's soulful yet drearily enticing vocals mesh perfectly with the suave and sleek motion of the opening titles, almost serpent-like in the sense that slow pacing leaves audiences in a mesmerized trance, only to uncoil with a firey sensuality in the fashion of a good spy movie.
Daniel Craig returns for a third run as blue-eyed James Bond, his performance being nothing short of exceptional. Skyfall's antagonist, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), on the other hand, would be held in a lesser degree. Though he is not your typical moustache-twirling villain and comes with an interesting backstory, Raoul Silva is not that much of a memorable foe. Sure, his character may appear mentally disturbed and unstable, but he doesn't really project ideas of "fear" or "danger" onto viewers. In fact, a short scene in the film with some grotesque facial prosthetics conjures up more uneasiness than Raoul with a gun. His extensive army of henchmen pose the most trouble and terror.
What would a James Bond film be without some exotic, voluptuous ladies? Sévérine (Bérénice Lim Marlohe) and Eve (Naomie Harris) are the newest Bond girls in a legacy of beautiful actresses, though their personas differ greatly. Marlohe fulfills the role of alluring vixen, however, that is about as much depth as her character gets; even in the short amount of time on screen, some additional qualities could have been showcased (besides her Beretta 70 and backless dress). On a better note, the chemistry between 007 and Eve is light-hearted and seamlessly flip-flops between friendship and flirtation. Loyal Bond fans will also be delighted in discovering an aspect of Eve's identity at the end of Skyfall.
Thomas Newman's music score succeeds in capturing the fast-paced, luxurious lifestyle of an English secret agent, with flourishes of strings and percussive rhythms that pay tribute to the classic Bond films, but still add a contemporary spin to signify a new beginning in the franchise. The score is diverse enough to fit a variety of scenes yet holds a cohesiveness that blends into a central theme.
Skyfall delivered as a James Bond film; it had all of the qualifications: fast cars, thrilling action, and sexy accents. However, there isn't much else particularly phenomenal about the movie. It could be considered a pretty standard action/adventure picture with the added bonus of "James Bond" attached to the title. Is it a good film? Yes. Is it the best? No. Will a better James Bond film be released? It's a possibility. But as of this moment in time, Skyfall leaves viewers satisfied and honors the series in the same spirit and respect it has possessed for half a century.