‘Skyfall’ impresses through cinematography, action

Adam Schoelz

Image used under fair use doctrine

You should go see Skyfall, the latest entry in the long-running James Bond franchise, for two reasons: Javier Bardem and the manor house at the end. Those alone are worth your seven bucks.
Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig as the eponymous Bond, takes a bit of a left turn away from the Bourne-y direction (see The Bourne Identity) the franchise has taken lately and back into classic Bond territory. Where Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, the other two Craig bond films, have taken a more serious-action tone, Skyfall tends to enjoy itself a little more, while still telling a captivating story that delves deeper into both Bond and M then ever before.
From a plot standpoint, Skyfall is sort of a metamorphosis of Craig’s Bond back into the main canon. Casino Royale was technically a reboot of the franchise, sending Pierce Brosnan’s cheese-tastic Bond back to the wisecracking hell he came from and eliminating the decades of Bonds before him. Whether this was a wise move or not is up for debate, but the general consensus was Casino Royale was awesome. Skyfall puts Bond back in his place. There’s a lot more humor in this Bond, and indeed an overarching theme of the film seems to be how long old dogs can outrun death.
That is one weird thing. Somewhere along the line Bond got old – the fresh faced agent we saw in Casino Royale getting his  badge is replaced by the grizziliest of grizzled veterans, who is too shaky to shoot straight and too beat up to beat people up. He needs help – from the new director of Q branch – and it seems almost too short a time for Bond to go from young man to old, as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were technically back-to-back. It doesn’t make much sense to jump so far forward into the future.
Though the plot may have some holes, it’s not swiss cheese by any stretch and the characters really tie it down well. Javier Bardem is spectacular as a smooth-yet-creepy, almost clingy ex-MI6 agent out for revenge. It shows real range for Bardem from his stone cold killer in No Country For Old Men to this very emotional and very flamboyant psychopath.
But where the film truly shines is in it’s cinematography.
Skyfall is a beautiful, beautiful film. Seriously, it would be hard to express with words how well shot this film is. Cinematographer Roger Deakins knocked it out of the park, especially in the film’s closing sequence, set in the misty Scottish countryside. Perhaps I just have a weakness for the Hebrides, but the bleak and cold landscape really meshes well with the bleak and cold Bond of this film. In addition, one shot where characters are – SPOILER ALERT – walking away from a burning manor house deserves an Oscar by itself.
This film may not vomit color at you or turn the world gray, but it takes realistic shots and makes them amazing.
In the end, Skyfall will be remembered as the Bond film of Bond films. It doesn’t break any new ground, but it plows and tills the old turf and makes it better than ever. Though it abandons the tone of the previous two along with their overarching storyline, Skyfall is a success for Bond fans everywhere.
By Adam Schoelz