To say Javier Bardem’s Silva is unlike any adversary 007 has faced before is akin to comparing Moneypenny to the Mona Lisa: One leaves no mystery about what lies behind her suggestive smile, while the other is enigmatic enough to keep admirers musing for years to come.
Between the remorseless grim reaper he played in “No Country for Old Men” and in this role, Bardem has carved out an all-new vision for onscreen evil — a stunning development when you consider the smoldering sex appeal he so easily embodied in “Jamon jamon” and “Before Night Falls.” Now, “Skyfall” paradoxically draws from both aspects of Bardem’s multi-faceted persona, masking the character’s inner sociopath beneath a disarmingly seductive exterior.
With bronzed skin, bleached blond hair and a strut so animalistic that even Bond starts to question his sexual orientation, Silva puts past 007 adversaries to shame. The series’ first Oscar-winning adversary — though not its first gay one (see “Diamonds Are Forever’s” Wint and Kidd) — Bardem is no mere nuclear bomb-wielding extortionist, unlike so many Spectre henchmen of old.
Popular on Variety
Instead, Silva has a personal score to settle, weaseling his way inside Bond’s head from behind the glass of his Hannibal Lecter-like cell. The only other villain who’s come this close to outwitting Bond was Sean Bean as a turncoat 006 in “GoldenEye.” In both cases, these rivals brought out the best in Bond, forcing the series’ thinly drawn hero to examine why he fights for England. As “Skyfall” makes clear, so long as the world contains souls as scary as Silva, we desperately need a man like Bond to protect us.
• Javiar Bardem: Spain fame turns to international status