Skyfall ★★★½

Breaking the continuity that carried over from Casino Royale to Quantum of Solace, Skyfall is a standalone feature which takes the series to an all-time high by becoming the most successful chapter of the long-running franchise and with its strong word-of-mouth reception also turns out to be the fitting instalment to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bond series.

The story of Skyfall presents the 007 agent at his most vulnerable after he's accidentally shot down by his own colleague while on a mission. Retiring to a peaceful life once he's presumed dead, Bond ultimately returns to duty after an assassination attempt is made on M after which further investigations lead him to a former MI6 agent who seeks revenge against M for betraying him.

Directed by Sam Mendes, the film begins on a rousing note with a spectacular chase sequence set in Istanbul, which is then followed by an even more remarkable theme song by Adele, after which the main plot surfaces. The story delves into a much darker territory this time but at its core lies a very emotional element that's elegantly handled by the revered filmmaker throughout its runtime.

Coming to the technical aspects, Skyfall might very well be the most beautiful looking film of the franchise as almost every element is carefully processed & executed. Roger Deakins' spellbinding cinematography makes the film truly stand out & is at its most dazzling during the Shanghai sequences. Editing firmly controls its pacing and both set pieces & exotic locations are smartly chosen.

Use of CGI remains minimal with more emphasis given to stunt work & practical effects to keep the action sequences as grounded as possible. Continuing their successful collaboration since the beginning, Thomas Newman comes up with another terrific score that beautifully intertwines with Mendes' narrative while Adele's theme song may very well be the franchise's finest to date.

Coming to the performances, Daniel Craig shows great comfort in getting under the skin of 007 once again but where Skyfall triumphs is in boasting a really strong supporting cast this time amongst which Judi Dench & Javier Bardem end up impressing the most. Dench as M is upgraded to leading lady status here as her character plays a significant role in the events plus her relationship with Bond is the film's core ingredient.

Javier Bardem plays the main antagonist with finesse & even though the odd persona he portrays as Silva is very commendable, it isn't as intimidating as I expected him to be. Ralph Fiennes is always a treat to watch no matter what role he plays, Naomie Harris' character turns out to be the worst driver ever while both Ben Whishaw & Bérénice Marlohe are fine additions in their given roles of Q & Sévérine, respectively.

On an overall scale, Skyfall is a welcome addition to James Bond franchise & even though many like to call it the best Bond film in the rebooted series, I would still put my money on Casino Royale. Realigning its route by advancing into the future without leaving behind the old-school charisma, Skyfall is a worthy follow-up that ultimately lives up to its hype and, despite its overlong third act, manages to deliver the thrills it promised.

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