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Skyfall anticipation was pushing near unbearable levels by the time I pulled into the parking lot of the cinema for the midnight showing of Daniel Craig's newest Bond film. After reading and reporting on its record-breaking runs internationally, the hype for Skyfall was already flying at an elevated level for most Bond fans, but it was soaring for me.
I had spent a semester in London last year studying abroad. With social media, keeping in touch with the friends I had made across the ocean was only a keystroke away; however, when Skyfall opened in the UK a week before the US, these friends became spoiler hawks keen on making my eyes read what they could not un-see.
Everything seen in the Skyfall trailer is merely a blurb taken out its contextual place in the scene. Because of this, many of the clips I thought I saw and understood from the trailer were the surprisingly reinvented when seen in their proper setting. From the opening train action sequence to the introduction of Q, many of the scenes were different from the way they were presented in the trailer; except for Daniel Craig suavely adjusting his cuffs after tearing the roof off of a train car with a bulldozer. That was just James Bond being a badass.
From the beginning of the film, Sam Mendes' influence in the movie is not only seen, it is felt. At any time, the viewer could take a snapshot of a scene in progress and have a perfectly balanced photo. Visually, the film is the best Bond film to ever hit the screen.
Javier Bardem performance as Raoul Silva is one of the most memorable Bond villains. Although the portrayal of an ex-MI6 agent who turns on his country has been done in the Bond universe before, Bardem's emotional, broken qualities make the character as internally unstable and he is externally. After being handed over to China by M, Silva is tortured and decides to take a cyanide capsule stored in one of his molars as a final escape. The cyanide disfigures him, forcing him to wear a prosthetic mouth piece that hides his decaying mouth and lifts his eroded cheek bones, but fails to kill him.
Hellbent on revenge, Silva's technical genius targets M. His meticulous attention to detail puts him one step ahead of a Bond we have never seen before. He is old, weaker, and psychologically unstable. Craig has made it a point to highlight Bond's vulnerable side more often, however this installment of the film has made the film feel more like The Dark Knight focussing more on internal conflicts rather than action sequences and hero vs. villain. To some that has brought the character to new heights while to others it has swayed too far away from the Bond that traditional fans have loved for 50 years.
The climax both the action and the darker emotional Bond comes when he and M escape to Bond's home in rural Scotland. For the first time the viewers learn about Bond's orphaned childhood. Both of Bond's parents died there. And after a dramatic, action filled battle filled with improvised weapons and booby traps, so does his second mother, M.
The resolution of Skyfall, the last 10 minutes of the film are unmissable. the new M makes his debut in the iconic padded room for the first time, Money Penny is introduced, however now viewers know why the two have their unique chemistry. Combine that with the introduction of the new quarters master, or Q, and Skyfall is perfectly set up to introduce future Bond films back to the traditional scenarios fans love.
However with the curveball that is Craig, in addition to backgrounds that we now have on all of the major re-occuring characters, the new style of James Bond possesses unprecedented levels of character development. Will the Brocolli's continue to produce the emotional, dramatic Bond movies that younger audiences have fallen in love with or will the films return to the traditional suave that have lured fans over the course of 50 years? One thing is for sure. As the last title screen in Skyfall said, "Bond Will Return."