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24 October 2012

TopGear.com’s review of Skyfall

It’s the 23rd Bond flick and the 50th anniversary since Dr No. But is it any good?

Vijay Pattni
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Some good news. Any lingering, residual ill feeling you might have for 2008's ill-fated Quantum of Solace will be wiped out within the first ten-odd minutes of Skyfall's opening scene. Bond is most definitely back to his most bombastic, audacious and explosive best since Daniel Craig first suited up in Casino Royale. Then there's that song by Adele, a deserving entry into the 007 musical canon.

Of course, Quantum was finished under a storm cloud: the US writer's strike affected the direction of the film to the extent that Craig and co were pretty much making it up as they went along. Not bad when you consider how wonderfully destructive that opening car chase with the Aston DBS taking on Alfa 159s was.

Skyfall, thankfully, brings Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes to the fold. And it's a solid - if emotionally charged - film that romps through a couple of hours of familiar Bond fare that proves the American Beauty and Revolutionary Road director can more than handle an explosion or nine. And a solid car chase.

What's interesting is the emotion that Mendes, together with regular screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, has weaved into Skyfall. Here is a Bond who begins the show washed up following a breathless fistfight on top of a train, and remains constantly on the back foot against an opponent who's got the most luxuriant and riotously coloured hair this side of Doctor Emmett Brown from Back to the Future (squint, and Silva - played by Javier Bardem - could be a young Doc). Not only that, but Bond's relationship with the most significant lady in his life - M - is fleshed out to good effect too.

Of course, you want to know about the cars, right? Rest assured, there's plenty of smashery on board Skyfall, from the opening car chase involving an Audi and a Land Rover Defender - with the help of motocross champion Robbie Maddison and British rally car champ Mark Higgins - to the grand entrance of the Aston Martin DB5. In fact, we couldn't help but smile at the arrival of the DB5 - which TopGear.com showed you in a world exclusive, don't forget...

Producer Michael G Wilson agrees with us. "We've flirted with other cars from time to time," he says, "but we always come back to Aston Martin." Craig too was particularly effusive about its return. "I love them. This film is about Bond returning to his roots and confronting old demons, so it felt right."

The DB5 certainly felt like a keynote in the film, one that linked it back to its predecessors; films born in the claustrophobic, cold war age of the 1960s.

And that's perhaps just one criticism we'd have of Skyfall. It's a superb Bond film with everything where it should be - gun fights, car chases, explosions, girls and even a psychologically scarred 007 - but in the chase for spectacle, some of the more sinister, quieter, corridor-strafing cold-war spirit of the ‘60s has been lost.

Still, Craig has most definitely secured his status in the pantheon of all time great Bonds with Skyfall. His performance anchors the more explosive, and tender, moments. Plus, any man with an affinity for skilful power sliding gets a nod from us. It's a good ‘un, this one...

Tags: alfa romeo, aston martin, db5, james bond, skyfall

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