Skyfall - Daniel Craig's big test

Oxford Mail: Familiar old friends return alongside Daniel Craig in Skyfall Familiar old friends return alongside Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Skyfall (12A)

starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench

THERE is a truism about an actor's third James Bond film - it will stand as their best 007 outing by a mile.

Connery and Goldfinger, naturally. Moore and The Spy Who Loved Me, easily - especially compared to some of the films he was lumbered with. And Brosnan with The World Is Not Enough, head and shoudlers above Die Another Day.

The actor is comfortable in the role and the writers now know his strengths to work to.

And so we come to Skyfall, Daniel Craig's third turn in the role and currently hailed as all new Bond films are as the best yet and massively superior to the now fashionably derided Quantum of Solace from 2008.

Well neither of those statements are true. Skyfall is a good Bond film and Javier Bardem is one of the great villains with a delicious performance as a true psychopath.

But whereas Quantum was a tight and stylised film, Skyfall is far grander and its storyline a little flabby in comparison.

We find MI6 under attack and Bond shot, presumed dead. Of course he is not and, despite being clearly not physically up to the task, he sets out to discover who is set on a mission of revenge against M (Judi Dench).

It is Bardem's mysterious Silva, a man who revels in not only his revenge but how he is executing it. Bardem steals every scene he is in with a fantastic performance that almost eclipses the niggle that overall the villain's way of exacting revenge is far too overplayed.

Running at 2hr 23m, director Sam Mendes could easily have cut 20 minutes out of the first half of the movie to improve its zip towards an explosive final half hour.

Craig turns in a decent Bond performance, finally shorn of the constraints of the two previous films when, as part of the rebooted story arc, he had to play a 007 still learning his trade.

  • Watch the Skyfall trailer

We find Bond this time a little closer to the 007 of the final half dozen Fleming novels as an agent not wholly in love with his job or life. That is a little at odds with Quantum and Casino in that we have jumped from the apprentice Bond to the jaded old hand - there's even digs about his age - without any stop inbetween.

The producers seem intent to have storylines moving from one film to the next, but Skyfalll jars against the groundwork laid in the two films building Craig's Bond towards being the traditional flawless hero and the shadowy terrorist network Quantum of the first two films.

The biggest gripe though has to be the move towards more swearing. There has been the odd naughty word in the past but usually the series has been above it, so when Dame Judi drops the F-bomb that really grates. 

But overall Skyfall will leave most feeling thrilled, especially by the finale that will please all but the cynical Bond fan.

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