This article contains potential spoilers regarding new James Bond film Skyfall
With Skyfall marking the longest gap between films without changing the lead actor in the James Bond franchise’s long 50 year history, it may just prove to have been the break the series needed to return with the best instalment so far. Here’s why:
1. The A-List Talent
For the first time in the series’ history, the film is directed by an Academy Award winning director. Sam Mendes, whose debut feature American Beauty earned him the Best Director award in 2000, is at the helm of the 23rd Bond film and he has assembled an impressive cast and crew of technical experts and fellow award winners with 35 Academy Award nominations and 5 wins between them. Working from a script by the writers of the previous four films, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade who have also been collaborating with John Logan, one of the writers of Gladiator, to craft a screenplay that moves the story away from the Quantum organisation that dominated the previous two films and into a completely new plot that sees Bond’s loyalty to M tested as her past comes back to haunt her.
Production design and cinematography is provided by two cohorts of the Coen Brothers, Dennis Gassner and Roger Deakins, so it can be assumed the film will have a distinctive look and Mendes obviously already has a good working relationship with both, having worked together on Jarhead. Mendes has also brought his faithful composer, Thomas Newman with him to supply the score for the film which should prove to be an interesting change after David Arnold’s excellent John Barry influenced soundtracks for the previous five films. Newman is reportedly still working on finding the appropriate sound for the film but I am confident it will be markedly different to all that have come before and once he has established his approach to the score hopefully we will discover who will be providing the all important theme song.
As well as bringing new blood to the series, Mendes has also seen sense in employing a number of veteran Bond crew members, particularly in the action and stunt department. Under the second-unit direction of Alexander Witt (Casino Royale), stunt co-ordinator Gary Powell (Goldeneye to present) and special effects guru Chris Corbould, who has been involved in the series since 1979, return to ensure the film will not be short on signature action set pieces.
The cast list also brings some new big names to the series. Javier Bardem will play the film’s mysterious lead villain Silva but rumours were abound when Ralph Fiennes was first announced that he would be playing Bond’s nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, however these proved to be completely false with Fiennes confirmed as playing an MI6 agent Gareth Mallory. Now, the expectation is that he is being lined up as a replacement for Judi Dench’s M, which seems like a more feasible option. Dench has been connected to the role for 17 years now, equally as long as the original M, Bernard Lee however this will only be her seventh appearance in the role compared to Lee’s eleven. Very little has been revealed regarding Albert Finney’s Kincade but my money is on the possibility that he is the connection from M’s past whose revelations will set the ball rolling.
Bond’s gadget maestro Q returns to the mix played by young British actor Ben Whishaw. Hopefully this means he may have more to do than just provide Bond with equipment for his mission; he may actually be involved in the mission itself or at least appear in the field. Another key character that was expected to be returning was Miss Moneypenny, however again this proved to be untrue; Naomie Harris is in fact playing a field agent named Eve. Possibly just fulfilling a similar role to Gemma Arterton’s Agent Fields in Quantum Of Solace but after her short role in that film here’s hoping Eve lasts more than just a few scenes. Little is known at this stage of the lead Bond girl Severine, played by French actress Berenice Marlohe, but expect her to be a multi-faceted character with a dark side, most likely connected in some way to Silva.