Probably the most beloved of the Daniel Craig era opus, is Skyfall really one of the best James Bond 007 adventures?
Despite a start on the hats of the wheel in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s James Bond suffered a first critical setback with Quantum of Solace, received rather lukewarm by the press and part of the public. Skyfall, long announced, therefore had to take up a double challenge: to restore the hero’s image and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the saga, which began with James Bond 007 vs. Dr. No in 1962.
And it was a success, because this 23rd adventure managed both to win the support of the whole world and to hold up the box office. A success on all fronts, still unanimously celebrated among franchise aficionados and the general public. Skyfall would it be James Bond last?
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
This is crap. Someone has stolen a list of MI6 agents, and Bond and his colleague are dispatched to find her. A few motorbike jumps and backhoe train attacks later, the future Moneypenny descends 007 under the pressure of M. And since two bullets in the chest and a fall of 2 kilometers flat in a river will not have the skin the agent, he takes the opportunity to pay for a little vacation in the land of Tequila and scorpions. But beware, he is still a little tired.
When an attack explodes the headquarters of MI6, it resumes service, in the midst of an internal crisis. The mysterious thief in possession of the list taunts an M on the spot by gradually disclosing agent names. 007 meets a Q who is a little too young for his liking (as if it had already bothered him), finds his attacker / assassin at work and defends him without him being able to give the name of his employer. Never mind: the spy finds a token in his belongings which takes him directly to a casino in Macao.
And the Vodka Martini to hold the candle
There, he meets the troubled Séverine, an accomplice, who takes him after a dragon battle (yes, yes) to the big bad, Raoul Silva. This one is an ex-agent of MI6 abandoned by M in full torture session and having tested by himself the cosmetic surgery with cyanide. He therefore wants revenge, but it is without counting on Bond and his seductive chest, who contact the authorities and lock the psychopath and his brushing in a glass prison.
Except – what a surprise – it was a trap. The introduction of Q into his computer gives him access to the subway, where Bond pursues him, before eating an oar in his face (and not an oar of a kayak). Silva enters the courtroom where M is being auditioned, shoots her, but misses herself miserably. Bond disembarks and takes M to safety. All these little people meet at the mansion where the secret agent grew up, Skyfall Mansion, to explode every square inch of it using a pallet of varying caliber. While Silva attempts to die at the same time from M, he is shot by Bond. No luck : M dies anyway. Luckily: guess who just came back to MI6?
WHY this is a great leap
For his 50th birthday, James Bond had to look in the retro without deviating from his path. And it’s done with Skyfall who, by causing a diminished hero to fall to better understand his difficulties in extricating himself from his time, comments on the saga of which it wants to be the culmination without deviating from its codes. The dialogues, especially in the first part, multiply the metafilmic references and the narrative references. Bond is referred to several times as “a character”, notably by Eve, and the passage of his evaluation, at first glance anecdotal, authorizes the story to eject him from the myth he embodies.
Cut into the legend
The villain wants to be the symbol of a hard return to reality, an agent of relativism. James Bond would be an alcoholic drug addict blinded by his allegiances, the henchman of clumsy power. The only solution to deny his words: to go back to the sources, in this case to the writings of Ian Flemming himself since the climax takes place in the Skyfall mansion, inspired by the Dalness mansion, the writer’s family home. It is lit by the apocalyptic flames of Roger Deakins, devouring its ruins, that the character ends his free fall and is reborn, supported by a whole new team.
No question of saving the world once again … but of save the world of James Bond, his allies and his reputation. Intimate to the point of carnality, the villain embodied by a Javier Bardem born for the role is less flaunt of his megalomania than he seeks to shake the license in itself, a prospect that is even more unbearable for the viewer. Presented during one of those millimeter-shot sequences of which Sam Mendes has the secret, he experiences the traditions to which the saga desperately clings, more and more mocked 50 years after its debut, shoots the James Bond Girl without remorse and attacks the head of MI6, niche of 007 forced to crouch in the basements.
Not only Skyfall martyr the saga in order to revive it, if possible for another fiftieth anniversary, but he does it well. Besides his particularly disturbing villain, especially without his dentures, he doesn’t skimp on spectacular action sequences and memorable stunts, particularly during an ultra-inventive opening, including one of the most iconic shots of the license, or a tussle sublimated by a background of giant screens, stigma of the time in which he now operates , and aesthetic reference regularly cited right to left, a few years later.
Add to that – and despite the depressing vibe of the film – some effective hints of humor (the subway sequence) and the introduction of some excellent comedians in key positions like Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Ralph Fiennes, and we obtain one of the best Bond contemporary, crystallizing all the qualities of the Craig era.
A new standard?
Why is it not perfect
Everything is not necessarily perfect in Skyfall, unanimously hailed by critics and spectators. The final act, weighed down by its cosmogonic ambitions, is less thrilling than the action scenes preceding it, although it makes up for the beauty of the photograph, and the villain’s genius is quickly routed by the arsenal of traps. housed in the mansion.
Likewise, the film intends to include the technological upheavals of the 21st century in its questioning of the dogmas of British espionage. Unfortunately, as often with this kind of scenario detours, the facilities are in ambush (Q is very nice, but quite stupid all the same) and some details age very, very quickly. The blow of the small express post-hacking animation quickly lost in credibility.
If the screen is big, it’s powerful
In fgeneral, the aspirations of the scenario do some collateral damage, including the “main” James Bond Girl of the episode (if we do not count M, of course), camped by a Bérénice Marlohe involved. His disappearance in the middle of the intrigue and his death quickly put into perspective by the arrival with great fanfare of MI6 prevent him from gaining in character, and that’s a shame, since the idea of a James Bond girl in search of emancipation had something to seduce.
RIP in peace little angel gone too soon
No need to beat around the bush: Skyfall is quite simply the biggest success of the saga (excluding inflation), and the only one to have passed the symbolic billion dollar mark, a feat accomplished at the time by only 5 feature films. Today, it remains the 28th biggest success in the history of cinema with $ 1.1 billion in revenue for a budget of 200 million. This is called a juicy operation, which was however not guaranteed, given that Quantum of Solace only brought in 589.5 million for the same budget.
It was a triumph absolutely everywhere, especially in the UK, happy to see the most English of American-funded heroes pay homage to his roots. According to the CIB, in the report for 2016 and 2017, it would still be the second biggest success on site after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with 103.2 million pounds raised. In the United States, it hit $ 304 million in its 18 weeks of operation with ease, peaking at $ 88.3 million for its opening weekend, which isn’t all that extraordinary. and proves its power internationally.
In France, it was also a hit, whose singularity owes a lot to rave reviews and effective word of mouth. It gathered 1.8 million spectators the first week, 2.1 million the second, propelled by a holiday. In all, Skyfall a accumulated with us more than 7 million admissions. It is a total success which guaranteed the longevity of the saga for a few more episodes. And this is not the more mixed reception of Spectre which slowed down the revival of general interest in the license that it generated.
With a sober, but effective promo
A WORSHIP SCENE
It is fashionable to cite a particularly intense action sequence in this part of the article, and Skyfall not lacking. But the most memorable of his scenes remains the first meeting with Silva, remained famous. It concentrates all the stakes of this episode, and this from the discovery of its decoration, a vast floating ruin, populated by the bruised ghosts of MI6 and a farm of austere computer servers.
The big bad makes his entrance in a long Bond primer shot. After a certain point, the camera leaves its fixed point to carry out a forward traveling, excluding more and more Daniel Craig’s skull until it is completely ejected from the frame. As the bad guy grabs the field, the shot slowly changes angles to show him from a low angle, domineering and self-assured. A remarkable entry, followed by a dialogue that questions all the presuppositions of the saga.
Silva cuts a suit for a poor 007 put face to face with his weaknesses and shakes his sexuality. The fall is dizzying, even for an impassive Craig. The high point of a feature film that properly transgresses the aesthetic classicism generally associated with the franchise. We are still waiting for a competitor.