Thus far in the Daniel Craig era of James Bond, we’ve had one good and one not-quite-as-good film. Skyfall, the penultimate film thus far, is for me, the moment where the Daniel Craig Bond finally hit his stride. No more awkwardness, no immaturity, THIS is the Bond we’ve come to know and love over the decades.
Skyfall begins with another mission in progress: Bond is in Istanbul accompanied by a female agent (and there’s a good reason we don’t know her name yet). The end of this scene (being the pre-credits) features Bond accidentally shot and presumed dead in the aftermath.
In reality, Bond is alive and well, he decided to use his presumed death as a way to take some much needed time away, but it doesn’t last. Back in London, M (Judi Dench) is facing considerable pressure from Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) over the continued existence of MI6 in the 21st century and she is being pushed to retire. Out of nowhere, the MI6 servers are hacked and the building is bombed, prompting Bond to return to the city.Bond is up against his most dangerous opponent yet, and not everyone is going to make it out alive.
Unlike the previous two Bond films, I was unable to catch Skyfall in the theater (something I deeply regretted once I did see the movie). If Goldfinger is the perfect classic Bond film, then Skyfall is the perfect Bond film of the new era, I can’t think of any flaws.
Ben Whishaw is PERFECT as the new Q by the way, I didn’t think anyone could ever replace Desmond Llewelyn in that role, but he is perfect (and Bond’s line during their introduction “You’ve still got spots!” always makes me laugh)
*warning: spoilers for the ending of Skyfall follow*
I did not see (or I didn’t want to see) the death of Judi Dench’s M coming, but I also understood her reasons for leaving (she had been playing the role since 1995 after all). Without a doubt, the series won’t be the same without her, but Ralph Fiennes makes a pretty great M too. And speaking of the new M, this is the first time in the cinematic Bond universe that we actually know M’s real name (Gareth Mallory). M’s real name IS mentioned in the books, but that’s a separate thing from the movies.
And before I get to the music, I have to talk about that final scene, where Bond properly gets introduced to Eve Moneypenny (aka that female agent from the pre-title sequence): that was perfect!! I had this overwhelming feeling of: finally, everything is right with the Bond universe again (it just didn’t feel right without Q and Moneypenny, and both were reintroduced in this film). And the last scene where Bond faces the new M in his office, just that moment alone was an homage to classic Bond with the design of the office, Bond’s suit, M’s suit, the painting behind M’s head (go back to the Connery films and check out M’s office, you’ll see what I mean). And for the first time in a long time, when the screen went black, I instantly wanted more!
Now on to the music! For the first time in quite a while, David Arnold did NOT return to compose the score to Skyfall; instead the score was written by Thomas Newman (a great film composer in his own right and a frequent collaborator with director Sam Mendes). (It should be noted that Arnold was also busy composing the music for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.) Newman’s score won the BAFTA for Best Film Music. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score (only the second Bond film score to be so honored).
Thomas Newman’s score contributed more than a little to the success of this film. In this short making-of segment, Newman talks about how the score was put together, along with a little behind-the-scenes action.
While the score for Skyfall was well-received, the title song turned the world upside down. “Skyfall” was performed by Adele and received instant critical acclaim from everyone, and is now considered one of the greatest Bond songs ever created. The song was nominated for and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (the first Bond song to win an Oscar) and it also won a Brit Award for Best British Single (as well as a Critic’s Choice Award and a Golden Globe AND a Grammy Award.)
Credit to Art of the Title
I seriously doubt that any film will top Skyfall for quite some time, but Spectre certainly tried to (but more on that next time).
Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460
See also: Film/TV Reviews
Up next: Spectre (2015)
Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂
*poster and images are the property of Eon Productions