Skyfall ★★★★½

No Time to Die Pregame, Vol. 3

Skyfall. Fuck yeah!

I wouldn't have blamed anyone if MGM simply decided to call it quits on 007 after Skyfall, because it feels like the kind of film that's meant to cap off a character, despite it only being the halfway point of the 5-part narrative arc we've been graced with. Which is precisely why it is undoubtedly the best Craig-era Bond film. You get everything you need to from Bond, and yet the film still leaves you wanting so much more.

Just when you think this reboot franchise is peaking far too early with Casino Royale, along comes Sam Mendes, Roger Deakins, and Dennis Gassner with some pretty inspired creative choices. From front to back, the set design, direction, cinematography, score (Thomas Newman, please write the score for my life!), action, and fight choreography are firing on all cylinders and amount to a story that is expertly told and brilliantly paced. Skyfall is spy cinema at its most taut, alluring, and entertaining.

Daniel Craig's third outing as James Bond leaves you wondering how five other actors ever played the character before him, as Craig completely strips 007 down to his most vulnerable state while still making him effortlessly sexy and skilled in his craft. Craig nails the tiny nuances that make Bond a human being first better than anyone. He's not begging for attention with his grittiness, he's demanding it, intimidating us and everyone in his path and daring us to look away. Not to mention, his chemistry with Judi Dench is impeccable, and it's more than refreshing to see M evolve from an omniscient eye in the sky to a fellow human being with flaws of her own, flaws that allow the bond she shares with her agent to become the heart of the film. And while we're at it, let's go ahead and acknowledge Javier Bardem's Raoul Silva as the best modern Bond villain, with just the right amount of Joker-inspired zaniness and calculation to catch Bond and M off their guard. Bardem is a pleasure to witness as he imbues Silva with flamboyance and flair, the kind that makes each passing move harder to anticipate and each passing line of dialogue more sinister.

So, yeah, Skyfall is pretty fucking amazing and is very much the mark to beat. It says quite a bit when a spy film can be so bombastic, yet so subtle. When it can flow so smoothly from one scene to the next and fully embody the notion of "show, don't tell." It's the hallmark of great storytelling when the audience can get lost in the action and still understand everything that is going on, never needing to pause for a moment in order to have things spelled out or reaffirmed. Which is enough to call this one of the best action movies of the 2010s!

And it goes without saying, but if Adele's stirring theme song doesn't send chills down your spine, no Bond song every will!