Skyfall opens in classic Bond fashion with an extended action sequence involving countless vehicles, composed with enthralling kineticism. As an opening it’s perfect; as a representation of the film’s style it’s misleading.
The next half hour or so drags, aside from some impressive visual styling, before the film reveals its true nature with the introduction of Javier Bardem’s Silva.
As in No Country for Old Men, Bardem plays a formidable villain with a horrendous haircut. Silva is charming, idiosyncratic, sympathetic and imposing. He’s the most competent villain I’ve seen in a Bond film, but his goal isn’t to take over the world – it’s far more personal.
The film reflects Silva’s outlook, and is a more personal Bond film than any I’ve seen, to the point where it doesn’t really feel like a Bond film for the last hour. The action is low-key and low-tech. It’s not as exciting as the excellent Casino Royale, but still thoroughly effective.
Where Skyfall fails is where it tries to be a traditional Bond film. The “snappy” dialogue, the first scene with Q, even the explicit Goldfinger reference all feel out of place and clunky. It would have been better to leave this baggage behind.