Skyfall ★★★★

007's latest assignment in Istanbul, retrieving from a paid assassin a disk that contains the names of all NATO agents embedded in terrorist organizations, goes awry and he is presumed dead. In his absence M is forced to retire and the MI6 headquarters are bombed by someone who seemingly has a history with her. Soon after Bond comes out of hiding and is sent to find and catch the culprit.

The best Bond film since 1989 and "License to Kill" is a rousing affair that begins with the best pre-credits sequence in many, many, MANY years and continues with the foot on the pedal till the surprising finale. Sam Mendes, like the brilliant director he is, understands that if you want to make a successful franchise film you need to follow the formula and give the fans what to expect, but with enough tweaks here and there so that the aforementioned formula doesn't become stale. That's exactly what he does thus making a movie that transcends the limitations of the series and appeals to a much wider audience.
He is immensely helped by Roger Deakins who is in top form behind the camera. "Skyfall" is indisputably one of the most beautifully shot features of the last years. And Adelle's song has already become a classic next to such luminaries as "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds are Forever".

Acting and writing were never among the series' strong suits but here they are both top-notch. The characters are believable and feel real, in the confines of an action movie. And the plot takes our hero (and us) in places we didn't expect.
Craig is terrific as usual and the supporting players give very good performances (Dench, Fiennes, Harris, Finney). The real standout though is Javier Bardem who is deliciously nasty as the effeminate villain whose personal vendetta threatens to destroy the entire department.

There are a few drawbacks here and there. The climax is a bit hyperbolic and Bond exhibits some superhero qualities that were a hallmark of the Brosnan era. At the end of the day though this is a tremendously entertaining motion picture that was rightfully acclaimed by both fans of the series and casual viewers alike. If anyone doubted 007's ability to continue to thrive in the 2010's then "Skyfall" should put those doubts to rest once and for all.

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