Fifty years after his film debut in Dr No, James Bond is in rude health in Skyfall, his 23rd (official) screen adventure, shrugging off bullets, bombs and even a komodo dragon.
Director Sam Mendes puts his foot to the floor from the opening scene with a scorching car chase through the narrow streets of Istanbul that sees Daniel Craig’s Bond riding shotgun alongside field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) as their battered Land Rover hurtles in hot pursuit of a foreign mercenary who has made off with a hard-drive containing the identities of every undercover agent in MI6.
From here on, Mendes and his team do an extremely canny job of combining old-school Bond with new innovations, showing respect for the series’ heritage while also delivering some audacious surprises.
Some things are the same – including a spectacularly voluptuous Bond girl in the shape of Bérénice Marlohe‘s gorgeous femme fatale Sévérine and a ruthless megalomaniac villain in the form of Bardem’s campy, peroxide-blond cyber-terrorist Silva. Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5 makes a crowd-pleasing appearance, as does the equally iconic Bond theme. There are even some quippy one-liners.
But the outlandish gadgets that used to be a series mainstay are absent. This is a Bond film that doesn’t go in for gimmicks. There’s real substance here, and the acting has true emotional heft, particularly in the scenes between Craig’s resolute Bond and Judi Dench’s beleaguered M. If producers Eon can continue making films this good, who’s to say Bond won’t still be defying death in another 50 years time.
Released on DVD & Blu-ray by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on Monday 18th February.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.