Skyfall ★★★★

The latest installment in the James Bond series, Sam Mendes brings back the flair that we saw in Casino Royale (2006). Opening immediately into a thrilling action sequence that sets the pace for the rest of the film. The series continues to transition nicely for a modern generation as well as capturing a darker tone while staying true to the throwback heart of the material. Outside the setting and some nifty digital plotting devices, the story is still about 007 trying to bring down the bad guy while facing peril for the film's entire duration. Mendes gets this and uses it to showcase one gloriously executed action after another. Daniel Craig is a great edgy Bond in his third film in the series, Judi Dench remains charming as M and Ralph Fiennes is a splendid addition as Gareth Mallory. Naomie Harris is strong in a short and sweet role as Eve Moneypenny and Bérénice Marlohe is unfortunately underused in an even briefer role. No one complained about Javier Bardem being cast as the villain Raoul Silva, a former MI6 agent looking for revenge, and he is electric in a gleefully sadistic performance. The film clings to the inventiveness of the action scenes surround the more melodramatic central drama, and the final climax abruptly goes down a more simplistic and campy direction that is pretty underwhelming. Roger Deakins' almost single-handedly makes it all work, taking a cop-out and making it look stunning (the shot of Bardem lurching with the burning house in the background is reminiscent of No Country For Old Men)