Skyfall feels like the first Bond film in memory that is nuanced, carefully plotted and most of all, to a self confessed non-admirer of the series such as myself, probably also worthy of a second viewing. Eschewing the familiar template of continent hopping (though the opening is set in Istanbul and a sizeable portion in Macau and Shanghai), it brings the proceedings to the localized setting of its native London, where the very operations of MI6 are threatened by one of their own now gone rogue. Taking its cue from Christopher Nolan’s revisionist Batman franchise, specifically the sequel in that trilogy, Skyfall takes the series forward by going back into the protagonists past to make this outing feel more personal.

There are many things that make this Bond film work, some obvious, others not quite so. Javier Bardem takes centre stage for his turn as Silva, an ex-agent who uses his understanding of the inner workings of the agency against them. In broad strokes, his threat is similar to the Joker’s – he has his bases so well covered, his plan so meticulously laid out, he becomes a threat even while locked up. What drives him isn’t world domination, amassing fortune or all that other hullabaloo that colourful Bond villains are traditionally known for – he’s just out to get M. Which leads to the other winsome quality of the film, Judi Dench, her relationship to Bond, her sense of duty, flawed as it is, to her country, and her stern, motherly conviction in running the show even while her house of cards fall around her.

In continuing with challenging the conventions of the series, even the Bond girls, especially Naomie Harris, are more than just eye candy; they are purposeful not just as a means to an end but also as crutches who aid Bond on his mission. Finally, it’s how the film is presented overall – it feels more intimate, such as the quite, explosive closing scenes set in a mansion of great importance in the Scottish highlands, or constructed with great care, such as the brilliantly shot, neon lit scenes high up in a Shanghai skyscraper that plays with lights and reflections – the obvious work of the great Roger Deakins at hand.

Skyfall’s premise, with its focus on home grown terrorism and the threat of technology left uncontrolled, feels apt in the post-Bourne, post-Dark Knight cinematic world in which it exists and audiences are likely to welcome the serious yet familiar turn of events. Director Sam Mendes is quite possibly the most high profile director to have ever worked on the series (from a critical appreciation perspective, he is the first and only Oscar winning director to have helmed a film about the famed agent) and like a true auteur, he leaves his mark on the series and makes permanent, long lasting changes to both characters alike and the mythology on the whole.

I have no reservations whatsoever in stating it – this is the best modern Bond film I have seen.

Rating: ★★★★½

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and