At long last, we’ve arrived at the final film in my 007 Marathon, Skyfall! This is actually my favorite film in the Bond franchise (which I can now say with confidence, having just watched all of them), for a number of reasons. It’s the first of the Bond movies I saw in a theater (on my birthday, no less!), is what really got me interested in the series beyond just Daniel Craig’s run, and is – in addition to being a great entry to the franchise – a love letter to all that’s come before and the reemergence of many core Bond elements that had, until this point, been missing from the series since Casino Royale.
In many ways, Skyfall itself feels like a reboot of the franchise more so than Casino Royale did. It reintroduces core characters like Eve Moneypenny (played by the incredible Naomie Harris, my favorite actress in the part) and Q (Ben Whishaw, who in many ways feels like a young Desmond Llewelyn). It brings back the Aston Martin (ejector seat and missiles intact), along with some of Bond’s gadgets, but does so in a way that still fits within the “grounded” and more realistic universe that’s been created (though it pays homage to the old ways by having Q say, “What were you expecting? An exploding pen? We don’t really go for that anymore”). It delivers a larger-than-life villain in the form of Silva, played exceptionally well by a scene-chewing Javier Bardem. And, when all is said and done, it ends on Bond walking into MI6, flirting with Moneypenny, passing by a coat rack and walking into M’s office for his next assignment. If that‘s not Bond, I don’t know what is.
The film is one of the strongest in the entire franchise. At its core is a character story about Bond facing the possibility of his own mortality, and coming to terms with some of the darker things in his past. M, played again by the incredible Judi Dench, goes through a similar arc, as she’s the ultimate target of Silva’s schemes, and is faced with both the consequences of a failed mission and the question of whether or not she – and MI6 itself – belong in today’s world.
On top of a strong script, Skyfall boasts the most beautiful cinematography in the entire series (thanks to legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins), and some of the franchise’s most inventive and well-filmed action set pieces. From the jaw-dropping opening action set piece (which contains my favorite moment in the entire Bond franchise: When James rips the roof off of a moving train with a tractor, jumps into the train, and fixes his cufflink before moving on), to a close-quarter fight in which Bond and his attacker are silhouetted against a changing billboard, and the final Home Alone inspired sequence at Bond’s childhood home (from which the film draws its name), Sam Mendes may be the greatest director the franchise has ever employed.
I could go on and on about everything I love about Skyfall, but I’ll save you the long read and just say that it was the perfect film to end my 007 Marathon. It truly rewards the viewer for knowing about the Bond mythos, but does so in a far better way than something like Die Another Day. In addition to its bits of fan service, it’s also a film completely enjoyable for those unfamiliar with the franchise, as I was when I saw it in 2013. I loved it then, but I love it even more know that I know what it’s building off of and referencing.
So, there we have it! Thank you to those who’ve followed me through this incredible, fun, and sometimes daunting 23-film marathon. I began this task as someone who liked James Bond and wanted a challenge, but come away from it now with a greater understanding of the character, and an actual love of the 50+ year franchise, which has cemented its place in both pop culture and cinematic history.
I may be done watching the films, but will still be posting a few blog posts about my favorite moments, ranking my favorite Bond actors and films, and more. And, of course, I’ll be posting a review of the 24th film in the franchise, SPECTRE, when it finally opens up here in the United States on November 6th.
Thank you. Now, I’m going to go get a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.