Everyone's favorite alcoholic, chauvanist, killing machine is back in Sam Mendes' Skyfall. The film begins with James Bond using his "deceased" MI6 status to take a much needed vacation. That is until MI6 itself comes under attack by a sadistic ex-spy who will stop at nothing to get his revenge on the agency which he feels portrayed him, specifically M herself. Skyfall delivers on the typical reasons one would go to see a bond film - lots of action and adventure with a unique ability to transport the viewer to gorgeous locations around the world which only the James Bond series could provide. Where Skyfall stands out is it's thematic intentions which really owe a ton to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Saga. Much like Nolan's Bruce Wayne, in Skyfall Bond's life is quite expendable in the grand scheme of things, showing how some things, most notably country, are far more important than one man's individual life. Bond is not a machine, but a man whose physical and mental abuse over the years is beginning to take its toll on him. The Villian in Skyfall, played in a fun, hammy way by Javier Bardam, is incredibly similar to Batman's Joker, with even a large section of the second act being a little too close to Nolan's Dark Knight for my taste. That all being said, no idea is really original anymore and Mendes does just enough to keep things unique and compelling. The plot of the film is adequate but it's nothing you haven't seen before with the real treat being the themes which Mendes explores. Mendes loves the idea that Bond is simply another grunt working for the greater cause and he explores this in multiple way throughout the film. My favorite scene in the film by far is the assassination scene in Shangai. Mendes films the sequence beautifully, showing Bond and his adversary only in silhouette as they brutally fight to the death. To the average viewer this is merely an "artful" decision that makes it hard to tell who is who but in reality Mendes is illustrating his theme of how these two men at their core are not different, both being merely pawns to their superiors who of which are involved in a much bigger game. I was also impressed with how Mendes handled the action sequences using a good balance of chaotic camera work and establishing shots to make the viewer feel like they are in the action without sacrificing ones ability to follow it. While Casino Royale reintroduced Bond as a much more grounded character, Skyfall pushes this concept even farther, showing the humanity in James Bond while simultaneously understanding that in the end he is merely just another soldier for his country. Skyfall is definitely the best Daniel Craig bond and while it owes a lot to Nolan's batman series, it delivers a fun, smart brand of escapism.
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