Javier Bardem in ‘Skyfall’: Best Bond villain ever?
Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva in 'Skyfall' (Photo: Everett Collection/Columbia Pictures)
"Skyfall" finally opened in the U.S. last Friday, and it shattered the record for the biggest Bond movie opening ever with nearly $88 million for the weekend. Some critics -- and even Roger Moore, a former 007 -- are calling it the best installment of the 23-film series. Certainly while credit for the success is due to Daniel Craig, who continues his reinvention of Bond as a flawed and grounded hero, Bond movies have always depended on great villains. And "Skyfall" has one of best bad guys in the 50 year history of the franchise.
Javier Bardem at the 'Skyfall' premiere (Photo: SPE, Inc./Edmond Terakopian)
Much of the praise for Daniel Craig has been in regards to how different his portrayal of Bond is from the earlier on-screen personifications. But in some ways, Bardem's villain is great because he embraces and elevates many of the classic traits from 007's adversaries in the past. Here are some examples, and if you haven't seen "Skyfall" yet, there will be some mild spoilers.
A Match for Bond
The best villains are ones who can stand up to Bond, both mentally and physically. And with Daniel Craig as 007, finding an actor with the latter half has been a challenge. "Quantum of Solace" baddie Mathieu Amalric is a great actor, but being about half the size of Craig meant there wasn't much drama in their climatic fight scene. Bardem, on the other hand, is taller than Craig and a physically imposing presence. And since a major element of the film's story is Bond being out of step after nearly getting killed, he is at even more of a disadvantage.
But Silva is also Bond's intellectual equal as well. As a former secret agent under M (Judi Dench), he has all the training and access of a double-0. Like some standout villains of the past -- Sean Bean's duplicitous 006 from "GoldenEye" for example -- the fact that Silva is a turncoat makes him all the more dangerous.