Film Capsule: Skyfall

Skyfall is the best James Bond film of the modern era, and it may very well be the best Bond film of all-time. None of which should come as a huge surprise given we’re talking about a movie directed by Sam Mendes, starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes (among others).

Skyfall is also the first Bond film to portray 007 as an aging – if not wholly antiquated – relic from a bygone era. This is a brave new world, so to speak – one in which both James Bond and his long-time coterie need to either prove their worth or face extinction. To that end, Skyfall favors a more nuanced approach, substituting the term “Mother” for M, “Quartermaster” for Q, and the not-so-subtle shaking of a tumbler in lieu of James Bond’s usual drink order.

We’re dealing with a conflicted 007, as well … one who ultimately returns to the trials of his youth in a vague attempt to confront – and perhaps even exorcise – long-lingering demons. This is an overt tip of the cap to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy – one of several throughout Skyfall, including a central subplot that’s torn almost entirely from The Dark Knight‘s playbook.

Despite the inexplicable parallels, Skyfall still manages to stand tall on its own, moving a 50-year old franchise into unprecedented territory. Javier Bardem will – and should – go down as one of the most diabolical villains James Bond has ever faced. And Daniel Craig, while not necessarily the most iconic Bond of all-time, should probably be considered the best.

(Skyfall arrives in theaters nationwide today.)