It's hard to believe it's been 50 years since James Bond first hit the big screen and yet this past year had celebrations galore about that fact. First was the release of the blu-ray box set containing all Bond films with extras excluding SKYFALL. Numerous shows were done about the fact. Finally a tribute was paid to Bond this past Oscar night. But the big news concerning Bond this year was a new film, SKYFALL that has just hit DVD shelves.
After the first two outings with Daniel Craig as the titular character, Bond is back and in action like never before. The film opens with the usual chase sequence filled with more action than a half dozen films crammed into about 10 minutes. When it finishes Bond is shot by one of his own team on orders from M (Dame Judi Dench) and falls from a moving train over a high bridge into a roaring river. Cue music and opening credits.
Of course Bond didn't die. If he did then this would have been the shortest Bond film ever made. When the credits finish we find M fighting for the continued role of MI-6 and the need for the spy network set up all these years. It turns out that what Bond was attempting to retrieve (and failed to do) was a hard drive that contained the location and names of all of the undercover spies around the globe. Not only does M suffer that indignation but someone explodes a bomb in her office as well.
Recuperating on some desert island, Bond hears the news and returns to the fold, confronting M in her home. A few details filled in, a new weapon courtesy of a new Q and Bond is off and running. His first lead is the man he was battling on top of the train at the start of the film that results in an extremely well choreographed and filmed fight to the death. The clues lead Bond from Shanghai to Macau and eventually to a meeting with the man behind it all.
Silva (Javier Bardem) has a past with M. He too was one of the high members of MI-6 and a favorite of M. But things went bad (the details of which we learn later) and it appears he has manipulated Bond to this meeting. Bond escapes and captures Silva, taking him back to England. While most of the film up to this point has been setting the stage from here on out it's non-stop action and double crosses resulting in one of the most explosive finales ever captured in a Bond film and one that is more touching than any other.
Visually SKYFALL is an amazing film to watch. The colors of the neon in Shanghai pop off the screen and the action scenes feel as if you are there with Bond in each and every move. Director Sam Mendes isn't known as an action director but he brings a fresh look to the entire film as well as a depth of character to Bond that's rarely if ever been seen.
I saw this film when it was first out and loved it. For Bond geeks there are all sorts of special surprises from locations to items to lines in the film that will make them giddy with glee. Honestly there was at least one moment when I nearly screamed out "YES!" that involves a car. 'Nuff said. For those more recently drafted into the Bond films you'll get all the action you need and a story line that has more depths than most.
Of the three Craig Bond films I'm undecided which I like best but I know it's between this one and CASINO ROYALE. One thing is certain. All are movies that should not just be rented but added to your collection. Bond films are movies that can be enjoyed any time and will be for years to come.