Then there’s Javier Bardem. “Quantum” was notably missing a larger-than-life villain. Bardem’s Silva is the most memorable Bond villain in a while, bringing every ounce of his acting acumen to the role. He delivers a flamboyant, menacing performance as a hacker mastermind and betrayed ex-agent. Bardem’s weight is equal to Bond’s, and his ostentatious air will remind viewers of the Joker from “Batman.” It seems deliberate, considering Bond at one point stands atop MI-6 and surveys the city of London.
The great cast and strong script are tied together by an impressive director. Sam Mendes paints in bold colors, from the bleak and bombed-out grays of Scotland and Silva’s island to the raging orange glow of a house in flames and the exotic lights of Shanghai. “Skyfall,” like “Quantum,” has a touch of art-house mixed in with its action.
The action is perhaps the one thing that feels smaller. The final showdown occurs on Bond’s turf, in a twist from the majority of Bond films. And cyber-security issues feature prominently in the plot. But the most notable moment in “Skyfall” occurs not in the last gunfight or during some technical showdown. It’s as M sits before the parliamentary committee, answering for her actions. Mendes juxtaposes M defending her organization and her agents for their work in “the shadows” protecting Britain with Bond running through the streets of London toward danger. It’s a great picture, pointing back to every time in the 22 films over the last 50 years when Bond, bruised from his mission, has strived to the finish, never yielding until the job’s done.
Darin Miller is a movie critic in Washington, D.C.