Star rating - 9/10
With news today that even the Vatican is praising the new James Bond film, Skyfall, then it seems the franchise is in very good hands with Daniel Craig and Bond newcomer director Sam Mendes. It has been called the best Bond film with the best Bond ever - I'm not sure I would go quite that far, Sean Connery still has my heart by a whisker I think, but it is certainly very, very good.
From the off, Adele's strong soaring vocals on the theme music bring back memories of Bond themes of yesterday from the likes of Shirley Bassey. And the all important opening action sequence is brilliant - with Craig tearing around Istanbul chasing a villain on motor bikes, ending up as only Bond can, using an excavator on top of a train to get his man - and ending up tearing the roof off one of the train's carriage to make his trademark entrance, complete with last minute cufflink adjustment and all. Superb.
Sam Mendes, who is obviously an accomplished director of great repute in all the right places, stays true to the spirit of Bond, with all the lovely Bond clichés in evidence, whilst adding just enough freshness in approach to breathe new life into the format. His sophistication and talent are clearly put to great use as the action speeds through the beautiful locations of Shanghai, London, and ends up with a denouement in the Highlands of Scotland.
This time Bond comes back from the dead, and is not in the best of shape, to be reunited with M in the battle against cyber enemies, who have stolen information about secret agents, and are threatening to expose their cover and put their lives in danger. With Daniel Craig, the character of Bond is central to the story, and he carries it very well. But the great thing about Skyfall is that is puts our national treasure Judi Dench as M at centre stage too, as the plot revolves around her relationship with Bond, her bold actions, and career threatening decisions.
It is truly a star studded cast apart from Craig and Dench, with Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, and a lovely performance from Ben Wishaw as a young upstart Q, providing Bond with his gadgetry, and supplying some of the funniest lines in the film.
But the jewel in the crown is Javier Bardem as the best Bond villain ever, complete with blond hair , eyeliner, and a man-crush on our hero. He plays a secret agent turned agent of evil brilliantly, with much panache and humour, alongside horrifying acts of terror against Queen and country, and most particularly M. Just sit back and enjoy the ride - you know you want to.