Skyfall ★★★★½

Bond, ranked Bond

Doesn't quite reach the emotional heights of Casino Royale, but this is still one of my absolute favorite Bond films. Sam Mendes keeps up the pace and crafts what is surely the best-looking movie in the franchise. From the Shanghai fight - all silhouettes, LED displays and glass reflections - to the gorgeously lit casino and a fiery finale, this is top-tier Bond all around.

Daniel Craig is in excellent form, from his down-and-out phase at the start of the film to his gradual resurgence. I find Bardem slightly less than perfect; it seems to me he goes from cold and calculated to emotional wreck a bit too easily. The production design harks back to the glory days of Ken Adam, even including a lizard pit, albeit with a more modern sensibility. In contrast to Quantum of Solace the action scenes are both well-designed and well-edited - you can actually see what is happening in this one.

The only major flaw for me is the ludicrous decryption scene, where Ben Whishaw is given some of the most awful lines in an otherwise impeccable screenplay. From a film that openly comments on its rejection of newfangled gadgetry - no exploding pens, etc. - this gallon of technobabble is hard to take.

The ending is the perfect set-up for Spectre, another reset for a franchise that is always reinventing itself.