Skyfall ★★★★

A remarkable return to form for the formidable Bond series after the uniquely abysmal and lifeless Quantum of Solace. Skyfall is Bond at its best: thrilling, tense, and almost hypnotic. Mendes's direction captures everything: Bond’s moodiness, M’s surprising hesitance, the ruined beauty of a desolate island, and the blinding lights of a bustling metropolis. Craig's ability to slip into the role is possibly unmatched thanks to his nearly lethal charisma, commitment, and believability, but this is Dench's film. And even the script knows it.

Ultimately, a Bond film is only as good as its set pieces and villain. Thankfully for the audience this time around, the antagonist is memorable, an albino menace so pleased with himself that his very presence inspires pity, awe, amusement, annoyance, and glee. Bardem intimidates and instills fear without stooping to silly theatrics either. (Although the overt shock of his appearance does seem to fall into unintentional camp at points.)

And the set pieces are everything, nearly maximalized thanks to completely stunning cinematography that envelops the viewer in such a suspenseful world. Gorgeous, moving, and a fascinating disruption of the series's typical formula that manages to split the perfect difference between reverential traditionalism and refreshing change.

P.S. How nice to not only have a credible villain after Quantum but several female characters who aren't treated like annoying kid sisters undeserving of any relevancy or agency towards the plot. Yay!

P.P.S. Q, call me. Let's talk. I love your cardigan.