Despite lingering in production hell for god know how long, the 23rd James Bond film is heading towards its November 9th 2012 release date with a fairly incredible cast.
With American Beauty director Sam Mendes captaining the ship, series regulars Daniel Craig and Judi Dench returning and Naomie Harris playing Miss Moneypenny, the film already sounded like a good proposition. Then came the news that Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) and Ralph Fiennes (the Harry Potter series) had signed on as Bond’s nemesis and a “complex” character, respectively.
Now it’s been revealed that Paul Weller-lookalike Rhys Ifans as landed an unspecified role in the blockbuster. Ifans (Notting Hill) has just recently finished filming The Amazing Spider-Man, playing the villain Lizard, but it’s unlikely he will stay on the bad side for Bond 23. Fan chatter has already thrown up the possibility of Ifans playing Q, which would certainly be a good role for the scene-stealing the Welshman. With such a cast, Bond 23 might just challenge The Dark Knight Rises for the blockbuster to see next year
He’s somewhere between 80 and 112, but James Bond seems ready to go with his 23rd film instalment Skyfall. Due for release on October 26th, the film sees Daniel Craig returning as 007, with Sam Mendes picking up the directing reigns, and that up there is the very first promo poster for Skyfall. To be quiet honest, it’s a little dull and doesn’t give much in the way of the plot, but with a supporting cast including Judi Dench (back as M, of course), Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney and Ben Whishaw as Q, Skyfall looks like it could be a huge improvement on Craig’s last two outings as Bond.
How do you refine the key elements of a classic, but decidedly formulaic, franchise? How do you hold onto tradition in a period of such social transition? How do you take a decades-old character and breathe youth into him? Skyfall seems to know most of these answers.
The 23rd big screen mission for 007 doesn’t waste much time in getting to the point, with the exposition of the plot brought forth in the opening scenes - a shootout in a dimly lit hotel which becomes a breathless pursuit across Istanbul - feeling more or less like every Bond we’ve ever seen (which is always a welcome sight) until Bond falls from the train in a desperate attempt to protect British Intelligence. The opening titles roll then and there and with the most Bond sounding theme in years, we’re watching Skyfall.
Skyfall is a reboot in a very loose sense of the word. Bond is rebooted every time a new 007 is cast, none more so than Daniel Craig’s “James Blond”, but yet the quality of Casino Royale and the confusing explosion of Quantum Of Solace never really felt like Craig was anything special as Bond. Skyfall takes that idea and throws it over a moor in Scotland. Craig’s Bond is cold - the line “A waste of good scotch” is a particular highlight of mine - and still we can see him at his weakest; Judi Dench’s M is maternal and stern, and, well, Bardem’s Silva is captivating. In a time when movie villains are either all consuming space aliens or humanised psychopaths who we can’t help but like, Silva is the perfect antagonist. His power is supreme, as established from the beginning and perpetuated throughout and his boiling anger is so rare that it’s gleefully exciting.
The Bond action is the best yet - with Sam Mendes’ direction and Roger Deakins’ cinematography the fight scenes are helped along by some beautiful cinema - and the Bond ladies are as double edged as they come. Until the final act, Skyfall is a Bond strictly adhering to the rubric of every other bond. In the final act however, not only is a new norm established, as well as a new basic character roster, but the film really shines as a brilliant, brilliant action movie.