By Lane Roberts
Javier Bardem costars as Raoul Silva, a former MI-6 operative determined to destroy M after she betrays him.
It has been 50 years since Her Majesty’s sexiest spy first graced silver screens in 1962’s Dr. No, 007 seems to be undergoing a midlife crisis.
Suddenly aware of his own mortality, Bond even considers retirement after being accidentally shot on M’s orders by a fellow agent and presumed dead. He survives to fight another day, though obviously damaged both physically and psychologically by M’s rash decision that almost cost him his life.
Meanwhile, back at headquarters, M faces her own obsolescence in the agency when her authority is challenged by government bureaucrat Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), who questions her ceaseless and possibly misplaced faith in Bond.
Indeed, she is still convinced that Bond is the right man to find the cyber-maniac determined to humiliate her, despite failing his physical and psychological test.
Skyfall, like 2006’s Casino Royale, portrays Bond as less smug and more vulnerable than his earlier counterparts. Long gone are the days of fancy gadgets characteristic of the franchise’s earlier films.
Instead, the film delves into Bond’s mysterious childhood and his unique relationship with M. They share a past fraught with pain and ambition, continuously complicated by big egos and high expectations.
Despite this, M remains the only woman with whom he can maintain a relationship: the only true Bond girl.
Javier Bardem steals the show with his portrayal of Silva, who makes his flamboyant psychopath from No Country for Old Men look tame. Silva flaunts his derangement; his bleach-blond hair, effeminate manner, and flamboyancy all play into his psychosis, making him one of the most compelling Bond villains to date.
Redeeming the franchise after the disappointment of Quantum of Solace in 2008, Skyfall is invigorating and captivating. 007 is ready to face the next half-century of cinema.