Skyfall (2012) Director: Sam Mendes
Skyfall is the best James Bond film in my view. The theme of an outdated spy agency filled with valuable yet dispensable secret agents is timely in an age of advanced technology and newfangled criticisms of the James Bond heroic ethos following the end of the Cold War, and in a way the plot can be read as a defense of the “old ways of doing things” –perhaps a defense of James Bond himself. Like Casino Royale, Skyfall is one of the best Bond films in recent memory, they both balance the old James Bond with the contemporary demand in Hollywood for gritty, dark, and violent films. Skyfall is the 24th James Bond movie and the third Bond film starring Daniel Craig. The memorable title song is by Adele.
At the outset, Bond and Eve Moneypenny are in Istanbul (not Constantinople) Turkey, where they are pursuing a thief of classified M16 information. After a rapid chase-scene, Moneypenny accidentally shoots Bond as he fights with the thief aboard a moving train. The thief escapes and Bond falls (presumably) to his death. Meanwhile a firestorm brews in Parliament about whether or not classified spy programs are still relevant in an advanced world of technology. M is pressured to retire, and M16 is hacked and filled with explosives, and suddenly Bond returns. He tracks down the escaped thief from the beginning, but the thief dies and Bond steals a casino token he had which leads Bond to Macau, and he is lead to the compound of Raoul Silva (brilliantly played by Javier Bardem). Silva is a former M16 agent who was left to be tortured and die in captivity. He tried to kill himself with a cyanide capsule but it greatly deformed his face. Silva is captured but he orchestrates a complex escape and an attack on parliament, only for Bond to triumphantly emerge defending the “old ways” of doing things. Bond takes M and hides out at his parent’s home in the country. They are attacked by Silva and his crew while they defend the house with Bond’s old housekeeper, eventually leading them to an old chapel not far away but M is wounded. Silva catches her and tries to place his gun to both of their heads, but Bond appears and kills Silva by throwing a knife into his back. M, however, succumbs to her wounds. In the end, Moneypenny formally introduces herself to Bond and a new M is hired (Mallory).
The film was shot against a backdrop of financial troubles and bankruptcy for MGM. Yet, like Casino Royale, Skyfall re-introduces the Bond saga to a new era in a brilliant way.