BWW Review: SKYFALL IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall
"Orphans always make the best recruits." Daniel Craig's third foray as the infamous spy sees Bond grappling with his past in order to secure his future, going head-to-head with a former agent (played by Javier Bardem) whose sole motivation is avenging what he saw as betrayal by M (Judi Dench). Skyfall continues the films in concert series at the Royal Albert Hall, and is the second Bond film to be presented in this manner here.
Upon its release in 2012 the film received universal acclaim, and was cited by some critics as one of the best instalments in the Bond franchise. Seeing it again on the big screen, and backed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, it's not hard to understand why; with direction from Sam Mendes, the film has a gripping central narrative and all the offshoots of the plot are tied up neatly - plus there is a great selection of original action sequences.
Opening with a pursuit that takes in the roof (and interior) of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, before coming to a shocking end on top of a moving train, the orchestra is set to work immediately on Thomas Newman's blistering soundtrack. Another memorable sequence, of course, is Bond's subterranean pursuit of Silva, weaving in and out of Tube tunnels and stations to pacy backing music. These and other high octane moments are the highlights in terms of the 'film in concert' concept, as you are able to heighten your enjoyment of music and visuals simultaneously.
As with the previous Bond film in concert, Casino Royale, the theme song is pretty special. Performed and written by Adele (alongside regular collaborator Paul Epworth), it harks back to the title songs from some of the earlier films in the series with its powerful female vocals and dramatic orchestration. Thanks to a combination of the brilliant acoustics in the hall and a spine-tingling performance from the orchestra, it almost felt like Adele was there performing just for us.
Sometimes it takes sitting in an audience to rewatch a much-loved film to spot little details or make particular observations. For me, it shone a whole new light on Bardem's performance; it's surprisingly gentle for such a ruthless personality, and at times it seemed as if he was playing off our exact reaction - this kind of instinctive delivery really brings a character to life. The collective reaction to the film's excellent one-liners is also a great source of enjoyment.
Seeing films in this setting and backed by an orchestra is surprisingly addictive. It's obviously a mecca for people who are really into film soundtracks, but at the same time it can really stimulate a new interest. Skyfall was another great choice for inclusion in this series, and I'm rather hoping Spectre will see James Bond making a return to the Royal Albert Hall before too long. Until that time comes, pay attention, 007 - and please return everything in one piece...