Saturday 13 October 2012


There's no way I can give Skyfall the full BlogalongaBond treatment without giving away most of the film's surprises, so if it's all the same with you I'll save that for a few weeks. In the meantime, here's a spoiler-free review which contains no comedy captions or cock jokes.
Despite all the announcements to the contrary, Skyfall's Bond girl is not Naomie Harris as MI6 field agent Eve, who gets to give Bond a close shave while he wears nothing more than a towel. Nor is she the heavily-accented Bérénice Marlohe's Sévérine, who enjoys some nekkid shower fun with 007. It is in fact Judi Dench's M, who gets to drop the series' first F-bomb, effectively giving Bond the only proper fuck in his 50-year history.

Bond's relationship with M has been gently probed ever since Dench took over the role in GoldenEye, but it's so vital here that Skyfall might just be the first Bond Film that's actually an M Film. The result is an almost subdued entry, with the usual epic action sequences reduced to staccato beats of fights and explosions in favour of wordy exchanges about the inherent danger of misplaced trust and loyalty.
That's not to say that this is a 140-minute treatise on the nature of allegiances, patriotism and complex maternal relationships. Skyfall has plenty of action: the pre-title motorbike chase and train fight are classic Bond; a pursuit through the London Underground is both a rare example of a set-piece's location being plot-relevant and a satisfying setting for the most British of movie heroes; and the requisite final-act architectural carnage is both thrilling and symbolic. It's just that for once the dialogue isn't secondary to the mayhem; all the characters are allowed to breathe, rather than hurriedly spewing out exposition before the next building collapses.

While all this might sound like a return to the form of Casino Royale after the disappointing Quantum Of Solace, it's not. Not because Skyfall isn't as good as Casino Royale, but because it's a unique type of Bond film altogether. It's a curious mixture of old- and new-school Bond which succeeds for the most part but occasionally jars: Daniel Craig's delivery of a few weak one-liners betrays his own discomfort with them, while Thomas Newman's score tries to reinforce familiarity by crowbarring the Bond theme in at painfully obvious moments. It's elements like these that sit awkwardly with the more atypical ingredients: a Bond who's an unshaven shadow of his former self for the first hour; a villain who displays a surprising interest in 007; and a plot which, for the first time, unfolds mostly on British soil.
Despite the odd eyebrow-raising moment though, Skyfall is terrifically entertaining, and director Sam Mendes is to be congratulated for turning out such an unpredictable Bond film. Helped no end by a stunning contribution from cinematographer Roger Deakins and terrific work from Craig and Dench, Mendes more than capably handles the elements which could have been fumbled by a less assured director. The new Q is a pitch-perfect take on such a well-loved character, Bond's family history is treated with exactly the right amount of dignity and the final scene could well contain the most crowd-pleasing moments for Bond fans of all intensities in a very long time. Furthermore, Mendes has pitched the humour just right: a legacy-referring gag with the Aston Martin is probably the funniest thing in the entire series.

So while it's my duty as a Bond fan to identify the flaws in the diamond on an initial viewing (and there are more that I haven't mentioned), I have absolutely no doubt that repeat visits will ensure that Skyfall takes its place among not just the best of the Bonds but the best of all this year's films. And if nothing else, it's certainly the most unexpected.


  1. Nice review, but why not mention the writers? No biggie, of course, but lotsa love for director, DOP & actors, so it'd be great if a review (not just yours) mentioned the writers, too.

  2. Goldfinger (1964) received an Academy Award for Sound Effects (known today as Sound Editing) and Thunderball (1965) received an Academy Award for Visual Effects. It would be great if a Bond movie won an Oscar and/or BAFTA for best picture. Sadly, as The Incredible Suit knows so well, Oscars and BAFTAS often overlook films which become classics on every 'must see list' like Citizen Kane (1940), Psycho (1960),2001 A Space Odyssey (1968), Apocalypse Now (1979), Pulp Fiction (1994) & Fargo (1996). I assume from the start that any Bond movie is escapism. It does not have any deeper purpose than to sell loads of tickets to see the glamour and gloss. Any Bond movie with higher aspirations has this obstacle to overcome.

  3. Nice review, Neil; not sure if I completely agree with the final sentence though. With an Oscar winning director at the helm, two academy award winning actors, one of the best screenplay writers working today and a huge marketing campaign, I expect and hope that Skyfall is the impressive smash hit film that it wants to be.

    1. Thanks Luke - just to clarify, I don't mean it's unexpectedly good or that it'll be unexpectedly successful. I'm referring to the nature of the story and the film's tone, neither of which I expected.

  4. Freefall is one hell of an adventure. It is true.

  5. I've read this review a few times now, can't wait to see the film. I'm dying to see what that final scene involves, just off of different reviews having mentioned it- hoping that whatever it is, it's not so crowbarred-in as the nod to the comics at the end of Dark Knight Rises...

  6. Cracking review. Shame about the lack of He Means His Cock gags though.

  7. It's really interesting to read your reviews, Suit - and not just because you write them well. I avoided reading your opinion on Skyfall until I had written my own review... And it's quite striking how similar our views are. We may differ on some points (I feel Newman's score makes better use of the Modern Bond Sound template David Arnold set out; the very end's a little too neat for my liking), it's heartening to see that somebody else agrees that the film is flawed but brilliant and refreshing.

    Can't wait for those subsequent viewings...

  8. Love this site and appreciate your angle on these things, but am I the only one to think this was a BBC drama with the odd action scene thrown in?

    In fact, besides the first set piece, the action was pretty much non existant. (Even the ending was a sudden blip of nothing'ness)!

    Not a bond film, but a decent renter IMO.

  9. Nicely written review. I also agree with the first person (anonymous) that there should some intro to writer as well. Also James Bond always been a inspiring character. In Skyfall movie, Daniel Craig performed really well with all his effort even better than he was in Quantum of Solace.

  10. After watching Skyfall i can say that it is a BIG come back for Bond. After Quantum of Solace i was bit disappointed with the plot. Although the direction and action in Quantum of solace were amazing i really didn't like the plot and bond's commitment to it.

    In skyfall Bond reminded me his blockbuster and amazing role in Casino Royal.