STARRING: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes (CERT 12A, 143 minutes)
The plot: Quantum Of Solace didn’t quite match the standard of the fantastic Casino Royale, but can 007 bounce back with this latest from director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator)?
After an appropriately propulsive Istanbul-set curtain-raiser, MI6 comes under bomb and cyber attack from a mysterious assailant who starts exposing the names of undercover agents embedded in terror groups worldwide. It’s Bond’s job to identify and neutralise the threat, with the help of fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris).
What’s right with it? Somehow managing to be both excitingly modern and satisfyingly old-fashioned, Skyfall mixes thrills and character-driven drama with enough Bond heritage to give the fanboys a treat. Javier Bardem, as bleached-blond, soft-spoken former agent Raoul Silva, is the best villain of the Daniel Craig era, wittily puncturing the robust heterosexuality of the Bond brand. Possibly the most British Bond movie ever, Skyfall captures the 2012 moment, effectively celebrates the franchise’s 50th year, puts Dench’s M more than ever at the heart of the action, and ends with a couple of nice revelations that complete the character refresh that began with Casino Royale. Oh, and there's a great, Adele-assisted title sequence.
What’s wrong with it? Not a lot, but if you just love big action set-pieces, be advised that the finale is a tad underpowered and it never gets better than the opening ten minutes.
Verdict: Five decades after Dr No, the ability of Bond to keep adapting to modern audiences
is a unique phenomenon in blockbuster filmmaking. Skyfall reassures us that the character
is in the safest possible hands. HHHHH @charlesgant