Skyfall seemed to attract universal praise on it’s release, with some critics even tipping it to become the first James Bond film to win an Oscar. The truth is that although it’s of a much higher standard than most Bond films it’s not actually quite as good as all the hype would have you believe.
The whole film has a much more serious tone than usual. Bond, M and MI6 are portrayed as dinosaurs, hopelessly outgunned in a modern era where digital attacks are now able to do more damage than physical ones. One of the key points of the film is that Bond is now vulnerable, both physically and mentally. This greatly increases the dramatic tension. In previous films you could be 99% certain that Bond would win every fight. Here the outcome of even a minor tussle is uncertain. This is greatly to the film’s benefit and instead of just throwing huge spectacular set pieces at you, the director (Sam Mendes) is able to focus just as much on realism, drama and character interaction.
I would say that after the half-way point, the story pans out pretty much as you expect it to. There’s no twist or outstanding ‘Aha!’ moment that elevates this beyond a very good film to a superb one. Also against the more sombre backdrop, Bond’s famous one-liners often seem incongrous and out of place. Javier Bardem deserves a mention as the villain of the piece, he comes across as particularly dangerous and menacing. Without giving too much away : the end of the film is interesting since there is a change-of-guard and a reintroduction of old characters. A reboot seems to be indicated with Bond himself apparently back on form.
A very good Bond film, refreshing and dramatic. 7/10