Caleb O’s review published on Letterboxd:
The best part of later Bond movies is that the directors are allowed to try and make actual cinema. The older entries were popcorn flicks with action and babes. And yes, this does have that too. But this one is allowed to arc out a little more. Cinematography that’s interesting—the hotel fistfight in front of the blue light, the burning manor, the shots of the Macau casino (interesting to see stuff that would be evident in Mendes’s later film 1917). Characters given emotions—M reflecting on her past, Bond concerned over his capabilities and for other agents. A villain with a vendetta specifically against the heroes—Sean Bean from Goldeneye was the only other villain I could think of that has a personal connection to Bond & MI6, and even his overall plan isn’t to kill them specifically. Silva’s whole deal, however, is revenge, and that is cool to see, as it does force them to confront past failings, and gives them a dangerous villain to work with. He also has great chemistry with Craig, particularly in a notably homoerotic scene when he’s introduced, which I just cannot imagine Connery or Moore would have been comfortable doing. I also love how long the movie waited to reveal Silva—about the halfway point he shows up. I was worried that his plan wouldn’t hold up, but while it does rely a little on him just not accidentally dying a few times, it seemed fine to me.
Also, during the underground chase, Bond shoots and misses him, and then says ‘I won’t miss again Mister Silva,’ and the way he said it sounded like Jim Hawkins talking to Long John Silver in Treasure Island. A wizened, slightly more world-weary ne’er-do-well trying to influence someone he views as a younger version of himself, only to find the youngster to morally upright to corrupt? More Treasure Island analogies please!
It was hard to place this on my Evolving Bond Ranked List (only one left now!). It is currently at 3, just barely behind TSHLM despite the higher score, and I struggled about putting it at 2. I remember Spectre not being as good, so I won’t have to deal with that again. Still, the older movie had a little more charm to it, and seemed to showcase what Bond the Series was all about better, rather than this stripped back version.