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Skyfall - DVD Review

Skyfall

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

MOST Bond films have flaws but few Bond films end up as enjoyable as this.
Incoming director Sam Mendes has pulled out all the stops to ensure that 007’s 23rd adventure on his 50th anniversary is one to remember.

So, what works and what doesn’t? In the plus column, the story – co-penned by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan – is solid and displays a nice mix of drama and humour.

This is a Bond movie driven by real concerns (cyber terrorism, revenge) that operates on a more personal level. It also makes really good use of characters that have traditionally only operated on the periphery of things.

Hence, the story picks up in Istanbul as Bond (Daniel Craig) unsuccessfully attempts to prevent a chip containing the names and identities of all of M’s spies from falling into the wrong hands.

Missing, presumed dead Bond is left to contemplate betrayal while M (Judi Dench) discovers the cost of the mission’s failure.

By the time an out-of-shape 007 returns, MI6 has been severely compromised and M’s reputation and career appear to be in tatters. The subsequent investigation puts Bond on the path of the mysterious Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), who has his own reasons for engineering M’s downfall.

Mendes weaves this twisting story around many of the traditional franchise components, while also working in nods to past favourites and laying the foundations for the future.

In doing so, he delivers something approaching Bond’s best work even if the film can’t quite make the leap to five star status.

On the negative side, some of the humour negates the more dramatic moments, while Bardem’s villain – while deliciously camp (especially during his opening exchange with Craig) lacks any real menace.

The obvious nods to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (including the line “there’s a storm coming”) are a little too blatant and perhaps too numerous (giving them away would serve as spoilers).

And the Scotland set finale underwhelms as much as it exhilarates (an odd combination of emotions, admittedly, but one that’s indicative of the love-hate relationship you may well have with Bardem’s villain).

On the positive side, though, Craig continues to grow in stature as 007 (this is his best Bond performance) and is well supported by Dench, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Ralph Fiennes.

Roger Deakins’ cinematography means that Skyfall is the best looking Bond film ever.

And Mendes muscular handling of the action sequences serves to deliver at least two of the franchise’s very best: the opening chase in Istanbul and an ultra-stylish clash atop a neon lit building in Shanghai.

The reverential nods to seminal Bond moments are also fun, while the moves to update and create a healthy future mostly come off.

Indeed, the positives ultimately outweigh the negatives, thereby ensuring that Skyfall is both a hugely entertaining celebration of all things 007 as well as a damn fine action film in its own right.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 143mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 18, 2013