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The Independent Critic

Daniel Craig, Helen McCrory, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes
Sam Mendes
Ian Fleming (Novels), John Logan, Neal Purvis, Patrick Marber, Robert Wade
Rated PG-13
143 Mins.
Columbia Pictures
Blu-ray Special Features include; Shooting Bond; Intro; Opening Sequence; The Title Sequence; 007; Q;
DB5; Women; Villains; Action; Locations; Music; End Sequence; M; The Future; Skyfall Premiere Commentaries

 It's No Hype! "Skyfall" May Be The Best Bond Film Yet! 
Perhaps better than any other James Bond film, and that's saying quite a bit, Skyfall captures the past, present and future of James Bond in a way that is both extraordinarily exciting and surprisingly thought-provoking. Skyfall features a more introspective Bond, but not in that dreadful way that implies a talking head motion picture. There's still plenty of excitement to be found in Skyfall, but it's wrapped around a James Bond who feels more authentic, more humane and, dare I say it, even a tad more vulnerable.

This is not the James Bond that we want long-term, but it's the perfect manifestation of James Bond right now - A new vision of Bond that feels wholly satisfying without compromising on the electrifying. Daniel Craig returns in fine fashion for his third adventure as Bond, though I'd still like to forget Quantum of Solace, and with Sam Mendes at the helm he may very well have created the best film in half-century series.

With Skyfall, Bond returns from the dead ... or at least from having been left for dead. His return is marked by the loyalty we've come to expect from Bond, a loyalty to M (a returning Judi Dench). We kick things off with the awareness that a secret file has been snatched from the hands of MI6, and it's a file with a wealth of top secret information that threatens both national security and the security of a good number of MI6's agents including M. The bad guy in this case, Silva (Javier Bardem), is a blond-coiffed cyber-terrorist with all the charm and quirkiness that we love in our Bond villains. By this time, however, everyone is starting to doubt the need for Bond and others like him. In a world where information and mayhem can be created at the push of a button, Bond and M and everyone like them has become a bit "old school," at least according to M's new boss, Mallory (Ralph Fiennes).

Inspired by his loyalty to M, Bond resurfaces when Silva begins to target M with his terrorism.

Despite possessing a deeper humanity and a heartier human spirit, Skyfall still also follows through with an abundance of chase scenes and exciting globe-hopping. Trademark Bond nods are here, as well, including the Aston-Martin, martinis and, of course, an abundance of gadgets courtesy of Q (Ben Whishaw). A Bond flick wouldn't be a Bond flick without our hero's obligatory travels, and Skyfall takes Bond from Turkey to London to Shanghai to Macau and on to Scotland, where he'll encounter a spot-on Kincade (Albert Finney).

D.P. extraordinaire Roger Deakins works his magic here with the most vibrant Bond camera work in years, including an exciting and vibrant opening sequence and a Shanghai shoot-out that is the stuff of wonder. Deakins manages to keep the Bond classicism while beautifully utilizing all the latest contemporary technology.

Unlike this weekend's other opening pic, Lincoln, Skyfall does an excellent job of utilizing its supporting players all the way down to its bit parts. Judi Dench is again terrific as M, here possessing a sort of steely-eyed focus that makes you realize she's still got it even if she has gotten older. Ralph Fiennes exudes confidence as Mallory, while Ben Whishaw is a blast as the nerdish gadget dude who keeps Bond well equipped. While he may never rise to the level of evil that he achieved in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem is simply stellar as Silva, a man who is impossibly evil yet just as impossible to hate.

It's unfathomable that Skyfall won't be the biggest Bond film yet, with an abundance of advance hype and a film that manages to live up to it. Opening weekend should be fantastic, but word of mouth should guarantee that the sky doesn't fall for Skyfall for quite some time.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic