This October marks the long-awaited return of our nation’s most famously cunning, humorous and combative quintessential Brit to the screen. I am of course referring to our welcoming of James Bond back to the British cinemas in Skyfall, the 23rd instalment of the series.
Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) has taken the reigns as director for this latest instalment, which follows Bond re-appearing from the dead to find M’s reputation in tatters after the identities of MI6 undercover agents are leaked. His return sparks a hunt for Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), the latest eerie villain to test Bond’s endurance with blood-curdling speeches and a shockingly poor choice of hair-dye. With an on-going focus on M’s past, and Bond’s loyalty put to one of its most thorough tests as a result, we certainly are left with enough of an intriguing plotline for Mendes to work with.
Much is still a mystery regarding Skyfall, but the trailer pulls no punches when it comes to entertainment. Mind-blowing action sequences are mixed with stunning landscapes, ranging from Istanbul, to the beautifully lit lakes of China and of course, with plenty of black taxis, Union Jacks, and images of carnage on the London Underground, an assurance that we remember where it all began.
The film retains much of the qualities that have kept Bond the popular franchise that it remains today, with Bardem looking like the ideal actor to bring a refreshingly chilling villain to the film through Raoul Silva, and two exquisitely beautiful new ‘Bond girls’ in the form of Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris. Adele’s wonderful theme tune is also necessary to mention, adding further British zest to the film.
Yet there are still fears of Bond losing some of the characteristics that made him what he is. The most controversial factor, and what is perhaps a harsh sign of the times, is the takeover of Bond’s drink choice by Heineken. No more will we hear the oh-so-comforting “shaken, not stirred” martini order from 007. Instead, he will ask for a Dutch lager, taking us away from our comfortable Sean Connery-shaped nostalgia and moving us, if only momentarily, into a world driven by two things green – money and Heineken. This does give food for thought as to what direction the Bond films are heading, along with whether Daniel Craig, with his rough, ready and rather unshaven take on Bond, is a part of a gradual move away from the series’ tongue in cheek beginnings, and into the arms of the explosive, action-focused Blockbuster.
Despite this, while I am more than slightly hesitant to hail it with pre-emptive praises without pointing out some of Skyfall’s potential frailties, it does look set to be an extremely exciting addition to a classic collection, hopefully retaining its British grittiness and humour, while keeping sharply in line with the ever changing modern world of film and money.
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