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8 reasons why Skyfall with Daniel Craig as James Bond is one of the best Bond films ever

The Sam Mendes film, which released 10 years ago, became a turning point for the Bond franchise

Chandreyee Chatterjee Published 05.11.22, 10:19 AM

Skyfall has just turned 10. The 23rd James Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s third movie as 007 is often considered the best Bond movie of all time, even after Craig has hung up his suit with a fitting finale in No Time to Die. Skyfall changed the way we look at the iconic character and made Craig my favourite Bond, replacing Sean Connery after decades.

When I walked into the movie hall on November 1, 2012, I was prepared for more of the same thing that the last two Bond movies had delivered — a grittier adventure, sure, but one that also sucked out all the fun that made the films so enjoyable. But I was sold right from the best cold open and hooked till the emotional end.

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Ten years, and a recent rewatch later, Skyfall still remains the best Bond film I have watched. Here’s why.

The opening scene

As I said, that cold open was one of the best I have seen. Opening action set-pieces are a given for Bond movies but nothing could prepare the audience for the action-packed one in Skyfall, which starts with a bike chase on rooftops in Istanbul and ends with a brutal fight on a speeding train, not to mention Bond being shot at by a fellow agent (hello Moneypenny) on the calculated instruction of M, his body plunging into the river below. Which brings us to…

The title theme for the ages

A 007 movie is as much about the action and adventure as it is about the title song, and Adele’s melancholic voice following Bond sinking under water is moody and goosebump inducing. Skyfall, the song, became the first Bond title theme to be nominated for the Oscars in 30 years and the first one to ever win it.

Judy Dench’s M

Skyfall takes M from a two-dimensional plot point and Bond’s one-line bouncer to a flesh-and-blood person who is morally ambiguous and more complicated than she has ever been portrayed. She is ruthless and considers her agents dispensable and is the pivotal motivation for the film’s baddie.

It blends tradition with modernism

Both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were gritty and realistic in tone but at the cost of the panache and fun added by signature Bond things like the cool gadgets. Skyfall keeps the tone but brings back the fan-favourite elements, especially with Ben Wishaw’s nerdy Q keeping Bond stocked with special gadgets. Like the gun that won’t shoot without Bond’s fingerprint.

Roger Deakin’s cinematography

Skyfall looks gorgeous! Sam Mendes’s direction is given a push with Deakin’s fabulous cinematography. From the fight sequence against a neon-lit background to the misty Scottish highlands, Skyfall is a treat for the eyes. No wonder Deakin got an Oscar nomination for it.

A Bond-worthy villain

Javier Bardem turns in a chilling performance as ex-MIA agent-turned-terrorist Raoul Silva. Bardem manages to be menacing, seductive and sometimes downright unnerving. The fact that he is not a man who just wants world domination but is actually spurred on by personal motivations makes him even more effective. Bardem owns every scene he is in and will always be considered, if not the best, then definitely one of the best Bond baddies ever.

A vulnerable Bond, a first

James Bond has always been those alpha male heroes without vulnerability and I don’t just mean physical vulnerability. He is an impenetrable wall, which often makes him feel like a cardboard cutout. But the Bond we see in Skyfall is so much more than that. Mendes’s Bond is still suave, sexy and ready with one-liners, but he is also flawed and creaking at the joints, both physically and mentally. He is not at his prime anymore; he is unsure and emotionally distressed. His mother-son dynamic with M adds yet another layer to both Bond and M’s characters, making them more real.

Craig, Daniel Craig

When Craig emerged from the sea in Casino Royale, I wasn’t impressed. He was too rough around the edges to fit my idea of 007, even though he did the tux plenty justice. Skyfall is the movie that moved Craig from the number three spot on my list (Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan being first and second, respectively) to the top. For his nuanced performance of a man who is more than just debonair and is much less entitled (this is the one that scored over Connery), who can be ruthless and cold but also emotionally vulnerable, whether he is wearing a bespoke suit or not.

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