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Skyfall Review

The arrival of a new James Bond film is always treated as a special occasion because the Bond films hold such a high place of regard in the history of film. Never has that been more true than this year with the arrival of Bond 23: Skyfall. 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on screen and with the amount of time fans have been waiting Skyfall has to be something exceptional… and it is.

Skyfall sees M come under review and her ability to head up the Secret Service in doubt. This is after the Secret Service’s intelligence is broken and a list of agents has been stolen and in attempt to retrieve that list Bond has gone missing, presumed dead. However, when the Service itself comes under attack at the hands of suspected terrorists Bond is drawn back to London only to find that the person behind the attacks, Raoul Silva, claims a personal connection to both Bond and M, which forces Bond to question his loyalty to M.

Director Sam Mendes’ take on the world’s most famous spy marks the first time that an academy award winning director has taken the helm of a James Bond flick. Citing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight as one of the main influences on his take on the film you could tell that he was clearly going to make sure he put in a shift directing Skyfall. And he does not disappoint. Skyfall is shot superbly and combines a rare treat in Bond films of giving the characters equal billing with the action sequences, without one outweighing the other.

Right from the very first sequence, which includes a motorbike chase over rooftops as well as a shootout on a train, the bar is set very high. The set pieces are absolutely wonderful, explosions galore all the way through the film but this is not just action for the sake of it which is clear by the amount of emphasis put on characters throughout the film. Mendes manages to really add layers to Bond, M and the villain of the piece Raoul Silva and it is brilliant to watch these characters grow throughout the film.

Many fans of the James Bond series say that a Bond film is only as good as the villain and Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva delivers a villain not easily forgotten. As a rogue agent he is an equal match physically for Bond but his intellect is on a rather high level too and it seems as though his resources are endless. There is something incredibly creepy and sinister about the character and this performance is easily the best of the film. Although perhaps too much was put in to Bardem’s character because it seems as though the Bond girls were somewhat forgotten. After seeing all the promotional shots for the film I was expecting both Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe to play a much larger part in Skyfall than they actually did and it seemed to render their characters almost irrelevant other than to have something nice to look at.

Is it Sean Connery? Is it Roger Moore? The debate goes on and on among fan communities about who is the best Bond and with Skyfall Daniel Craig goes a long way to stamping out any doubt that would deny him of the accolade. Craig is a wonderful fit the Bond role, he’s a rough and ready guy with a charm to him; he delivers his one liners excellently and you can’t help but like his portrayal. Couple that with the fact that Craig actually is a very very good actor and you get a great combination of on screen presence. And I have to mention that Ben Whishaw certainly pulls off the Q role perfectly.

Skyfall is a Bond film that, for me, stands alone above the rest. It does a great deal in differentiating itself from the rest of the films and makes sure it is better than Quantum of Solace. The opening sequence, the soundtrack, the title sequence; everything is wonderful. And I deny anyone to at least get a smile on their face when the famous James Bond music kicks in the middle of a scene. Skyfall is full of twists, turns and huge explosions that comes to its conclusion with a fantastic, yet incredibly surprising, ending. Enjoy!

My Rating: 9/10.

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“The name’s Bond, James Bond” is one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, almost as iconic as the man himself who says it so often. James Bond is a figure known all across the world, a British Secret Service agent that has saved the world and defeated villains countless times. The Ian Fleming creation has spawned twenty-three canon films and has been played by six different actors, all of whom have been white.

Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and today’s Daniel Craig have all donned the suit and the suave attitude to play the most famous spy that the world has ever seen. But once Daniel Craig steps aside is the path paved for a black actor to take on one of the most famous cinematic roles in history? It certainly looks as though this is now a real possibility where it has never really been given any thought before. Skyfall Bond girl Naomie Harris has let is slip that a black actor has been met by producers to talk about taking on the part, despite Daniel Craig having a contract for another two films. The actor in question is the phenomenal Idris Elba, who would certainly be an inspired choice as his stock continue to grow in Hollywood after roles in huge blockbuster films such as Thor and Prometheus.

Harris is quoted in The Huffington Post as saying “it does seem like there is a possibility in the future that there could very well be a black James Bond. And I would have to vote for Idris because I just finished working with him and he’s a great guy”. I thoroughly believe that the colour of his skin should not be an issue for the casting choice but let’s not forget all the uproar that was caused when Daniel Craig was cast just because he had BLONDE hair! But this is something that Idris Elba has mentioned and spoken about before, in October 2011 he stated “I don’t want to be the black James Bond. Sean Connery wasn’t the Scottish James Bond, and Daniel Craig wasn’t the blue-eyed James Bond, so if I played him, I don’t want to be called the black James Bond”. This makes complete sense; it should be his ability to act as the famous James Bond character that should see him either accepted or declined for the role.

Unfortunately I have been on a few fan forums and a lot of James Bond fans seem to be against this idea with some even saying that this would lead to a ‘gay, then female’ James Bond. Some fans say that making Bond black would go against the creation of Fleming but things are changing in the modern cultural climate and character’s do not stay the same forever. M was once a man in the films, now is a woman. Although I do believe that film fans can be fickle and in the end, if Elba played the part well enough there would be a lot of people backtracking on their previously held opinions.

Let’s not forget that it does appear to be a kind of underlying rule that a Hollywood hero must be either white or Will Smith. This would be a great opportunity for James Bond to not only take their own franchise and name forward but help pave way for better roles for black actors and a more equal chance for actors despite what their race may be.

It is unclear when in time the meetings took place between Elba and the Bond producers, it could even have been before they signed Daniel Craig on to two more films or it could have been after. It is also unclear whether Elba is the only person producers have met with or whether there have been others (black or white actors) who have been approached with a view to replacing Daniel Craig when he eventually steps down. Although, with critics already calling Skyfall the best Bond ever you have to think that fans will want to see plenty more of Craig before any considerations get under way as to who will be next in line.

Bond 23 ‘Skyfall‘ is in cinemas tomorrow (26/10/2012)