Skyfall ★★★★★

I’m usually pretty critical of new movies in my reviews, frequently complaining about the throwaway aesthetic of digital cinematography, the lack of character development, cartoony CGI, blah, blah.  But.  When a dazzling movie does slip out of this uninspiring era of moviemaking, I’m quick to recognize and praise it.  Sean Connery may forever be the best Bond, but with this latest rewatch of Skyfall, I think it might be my pick for the greatest Bond movie of them all (with another Daniel Craig entry Casino Royale coming in as a close 2nd).  What a brilliant course-correct from the disappointing Quantum of Solace.  I admire the Craig series thus far for having a long-term game plan when it comes to story (so far at least).  It honours the legacy of classic Bond movies while setting up its own future and not rushing it.  All the pieces are carefully put into place with this movie.  I love the introduction of Ben Whishaw’s Q and Ralph Fiennes’s character.  Judi Dench as M plays a central role in the story and she simply commands every moment she’s on screen.  The dynamic between her and Bond is fully realized and offers satisfying closure as the series veers off in a new direction.  Some iffy CG does pop up here and there, but it’s never egregious and for the most part, things are kept gritty and real.  Roger Deakins might be the MVP, I’ve never seen a digitally captured movie look this cinematic.  I guess it all depends on the talent behind the lens and not necessarily the medium.  This movie looks beautiful.  As for the score, Thomas Newman is a welcome upgrade from David Arnold’s forgettable Bond scores dating all the way back to the Pierce Brosnan era.  Daniel Craig is still in fine form as Bond and he’s got a juicy villain in Javier Bardem who likes to attack Bond psychologically as well as physically.  We are given more insight into Bond’s character than ever before while being careful to keep him his classic enigmatic self.  Good stuff.  As director, Sam Mendes seems to be in full control artistically and well as technically.  If they can keep enlisting talented directors and lay off the interference, maybe the Bond brand can last another 50 years.  We shall see.