After the disappointing QUANTAM OF SOLACE and years of financial trouble at MGM, Bond fans were just hoping that SKYFALL would get made, let alone set the famed superspy back on the right track from CASINO ROYALE. Nobody expected one of the best 007 films since the Connery days; a film that pays homage to the character's 50th anniversary in the best way possible.
Credit goes to AMERICAN BEAUTY director Sam Mendes for managing to find a fresh, character-based take on Bond for his 23rd outing that's just as thrilling. 007 is still suave and badass when appropriate, but feels more like a real, modern character this time out. And it's not dark and gritty for the sake of it; SKYFALL's Bond is broken down and old, a believable relic in a technological society. Things aren't as easy for him this time around and it makes the action elements more exciting. It's also a great showcase for Daniel Craig's actual acting talent in addition to his muscles.
Beyond a more grounded Bond, we also have Javier Bardem's incredible, layered villain–a menacing foe you actually believe has a chance of bringing down the unstoppable spy. Movie hackers are notoriously ridiculous creations, but Bardem's Silva was conceived by someone who has actually used a computer. Judi Dench also gets her most substantial role to date in the franchise and M's relationship with Bond is explored in very satisfying ways, as is their combined mental and emotional triangle with Silva.
But the real star of SKYFALL is legendary director of cinematography Roger Deakins, who's shot the most visually striking Bond movie in the series. From the blue-lit Shanghai skyscraper fight to the gorgeous Macau water entrance to the film's fiery climactic siege, Deakins presents plenty of iconic imagery that's fitting for Bond's half-century birthday. Claudio Miranda did amazing work for LIFE OF PI, but I'd be lying if I wasn't disappointed Deakins didn't pick up the Oscar this year.
The only thing SKYFALL could be said to lack is the typical romantic element. There are a couple "Bond girls" present (not counting M), but Bérénice Marlohe's screentime is fairly short and Naomie Harris is more of a co-worker than a love interest. Both characters fit the story well, however, and I don't think you'll miss the ladies with all the other amazing things going on in SKYFALL.
Commentary with director Sam Mendes: Mendes is as talented a speaker as he is a filmmaker, offering a detailed and intelligent track that adds plenty to your viewing experience. The director talks at length about the script, the technical action and commends the hard work from editors to the visual effects artists and more. Even better is how excited he is about the material and the Bond mythology. We hope the rumors of him returning for Bond 24 are true.
Commentary with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and production designer Dennis Gassner: This is a strange mix that pales compared to the Mendes track. You'd expect a rich history of the character with the Broccoli's present, but they spend a lot of time just commenting positively on what they're watching.
Shooting Bond (59:24): Mendes' track is good but this comprehensive hour-long Making Of documentary is the real meat of this Blu-Ray. It can be watched as an hour-long feature or broken apart in to 13 segments. You can find out more on the great opening title sequence, characters, action sequences, music and lots more.
SKYFALL Premiere (4:27): A few minutes from the movie's London premiere, with interviews with cast and crew.
Trailers, Promos and a DVD and Digital Copy are also included.
Despite a troubled path to the screen, SKYFALL turned out to be one of the best James Bond films ever and a classic film period. If you consider yourself any semblance of a 007 fan, you need to have this in your collection.
Extra Tidbit: Despite 50 years of movies and thousands of bullets, SKYFALL marks only the second time James Bond has been shot.