By Graham Newton
JAMES Bond comes home and finally comes of age as the 007 series makes its 23rd outing.
Skyfall enters new territory for the spy in his 50th cinematic year but also covers the same old ground and it’s this combination which makes the film both entertaining and intriguing for die-hard fans and newcomers to the 007 series.
Daniel Craig’s Bond sheds tears and we see an emotional depth in the character which we haven’t seen before. The writers have clearly tried to bring something new to Bond – we still have the silly humour, the big action pieces, the girls – but there is a three dimensional character here. They have not only sculpted a more human Bond, but have taken him back to his roots.
Most of the story unfolds in London and ends in the grey open wilderness of Scotland where Bond was apparently brought up by his parents, who died when he was young. His boss M (Dame Judi Dench) says, almost with a cruel streak, that orphans make the best spies.
It is these references to Bond’s past and exploration of his character which grab your attention as much as the action. Little has been given away about the character in past films and just to be given these biographical crumbs makes a huge difference to the story.
Craig kick-started a new era for Bond. The last three films have seen a darker, more troubled 007, with less of the cartoon violence which the series was famous for. The set pieces can still be over the top but they pack a real punch. The fight scenes and shoot-outs are gripping and the inevitable chase scene at the beginning of the film (all 12 minutes of it) hooks you in.
Recent films have played on the relationship between Bond and ‘M’. Craig and Dame Judi have real chemistry in what is at one moment a stormy relationship and then a truly warm one. In their first film together, Casino Royale, ‘M’ calls Bond ‘a sexist, misogynist dinosaur’. The relationship has moved on since, but there will be many who still agree with M’s sentiments.
The Bond villain must always play a central part in any Bond movie and Javier Bardem plays the blond-haired and sometimes very camp Silva. The performance occasionally teeters on pantomime but then swings over to chilling. But it is a great performance because it must be half an hour before Bardem appears on screen. To make such an impact in a film in only a handful of important scenes takes some doing.
With Craig set to do two more Bonds, this gives the writers the chance to really develop the character. Let’s hope that there are more intriguing revelations. Craig is the best Bond yet. He was a massive boost to what was a tired series which was in serious danger of being swallowed up by its own parody.
Skyfall has an explosive ending, as audiences expect, but this time there is a big shock prompting Bond to shed those tears.
James Bond will return, it says on screen, as the credits roll. This time I am genuinely glad.
Skyfall continues at The Reel, St Catherine’s Road, Grantham.
Have you seen the latest Bond. What did you think? Leave a comment.