2012 was always going to be an interesting year in cinema. The summer boasted comic book thrills with both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises establishing that the superhero genre is still alive and thriving, while fantasy fanatics are still eagerly anticipating the release of the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – could the year get any better? Well, it just so happens that it does, with the release of a relatively small film called Skyfall. I say relatively small, as I feel the twenty-third Bond film has been somewhat overshadowed by the earlier successes of 2012. It is no surprise following the dismal display that was Quantum of Solace, a mad cocktail of a film that was big on thrills – as seen in The Avengers - but lacking the emotional backbone and narrative – as seen in The Dark Knight Rises - that the film desperately needed. To add to the problems of Bond 23, the complications with studio funding made the project seem like an almost impossible task. However, after four long years of waiting, Bond is back – but the question is this: is it better than ever?
After the electrifying opening title sequence, which involves, car chases, bike chases, train chases, diggers on train chases – and all the other madness that are associated with Bond – I knew we were in safe hands. The title song by Adele began, and I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Skyfall focuses heavily on M and her past, as her previous and guilt-ridden actions have caught up with her in the form on Raoul Silva, played with a smirk of wickedness by Javier Bardem. Having been presumed dead, Bond must come back to service to combat this new threat.
As I write this, I can’t help but draw similarities with The Dark Knight Rises. In the same what that Bruce Wayne has to come out of retirement to combat the diabolical foe that was Bane, Bond must return to service to prevent Silva destroying that which is most dear to him. Both show broken men having to come up against a seemingly indestructible adversary and suffering greatly as a consequence. This element is a rare thing in the Bond series, or certainly a rarity in the more recent films. We see a man who is questioning his purpose and whether he is capable of overcoming the burden that he has willingly accepted. Daniel Craig presents a vulnerable Bond, a man who can bleed and questions his own abilities. This is what makes Skyfall stand head and shoulders above the rest of the films in the series. Many people have said it is the best Bond film, others have criticised the low levels of action. Here we have a film that does provide beautifully choreographed sequences and intense thrills, but has a solid narrative that triggers an emotional response with the audience.
Being the 50th anniversary of the series, there are several wonderful nods to the past that would make any die-hard Bond fan go weak at the knees. The women are stunning, the jokes are witty, and the Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery – complete with ejector seat and headlight machine guns – looks as beautiful as ever. You couldn’t ask more from a Bond film. This is the addition to the series that we as a loyal audience have been waiting for; now we finally get out reward. I can only sum up by saying that Skyfall is a mixture of thrills, laughs and tears that not only make it one of the best Bond films, but one of the best films of 2012. I can safety say that Bond IS back and it IS better than ever. Roll on Number 24