Skyfall

Skyfall ★★★★

My third watch: Skyfall still stands as one of James Bond's best.

Roger Deakins' stunning cinematography (easily the best of the franchise) is matched with Thomas Newman's excellent score (also among the best). The action is simply fantastic: the opening Istanbul/train sequence, the Parliament inquiry assault, the Skyfall-set superbly-choreographed gun battle climax - all of which neatly serving the story.

What further sets Skyfall apart is actually giving a strong character arc not to Bond, but instead his boss: Judi Dench's M. Dench gives a stirring performance, while Craig's aging, steel-faced, force-of-nature look remains perfect for this Bond era. I suppose the reaction to his performance is mixed, but I still absolutely love what Javier Bardem does with primary antagonist Silva.

I don't think the third act transition is clean. While the Scottish setting is beautiful, and the subsequent climax memorable, going to Bond's ancestral home of Skyfall feels contrived. It's only briefly mentioned once earlier in the film, which momentarily perturbs Bond. But that's it. I think some better writing could've made the decision to finish in Bond's homeland more natural and effective.

Still, great Bond; certainly one of my favorites of the franchise.