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Bond is back! Daniel Craig leads a fantastic cast that includes Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, and of course Dame Judi Dench as M. Sam Mendes directs this latest installment in the longest running franchise in movie history. My review of Skyfall!

The James Bond franchise always is re-inventing itself. Lately the re-invention is to make Bond more gritty and in the same vein as Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt. Casino Royale introduced us to Daniel Craig as Bond and burst him on the scene in one of the best installments of the franchise. Craig returns in Skyfall which not only beats out Casino Royale as one of the best Bonds, it beats out movies like The Dark Knight Rises as best action movie of the year.

In Skyfall, we follow Bond as he tries to track down a cyber terrorist who is threatening M and all of MI6. This terrorist, played fantastically by Javier Bardem, has hacked into MI6’s system and is breaking apart the organization from the inside.

Firstly what is so great about this movie is how Sam Mendes and writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan develop these characters. While we have seen Craig as Bond twice and Dench as M multiple times, this feels like we are engaging with new characters as we learn more about them. Craig’s version of Bond becomes more than just a caricature of the Sean Connery version and actually becomes human and emotional. He is bottomed out and not at the level he was in the past two movies and this take down of the character is what is so brilliant about Skyfall. Dench has a similar evolution as while she plays M for sixth time, this is the first time we really dive into her as a character and understand why she feels so sentimental to Bond.

The crowning achievement of Mendes as a director is the grand cinematic style that he brings to the movie. He treats this movie less like a blockbuster and more like a film that he is trying to get into the Oscars race. He gives us characters we care about and root for as they fight through their struggles, a beautiful setting, and action that is so well shot that it resembles that of movies like The Dark Knight. He brings whole new life to the Bond movie as he blends the classic Bond with the reinvented Bond and does it so well that you don’t really notice. He nods at the Bond fans while introducing newcomers to the franchise and sucks them in with this intense, smart, sexy movie.

Javier Bardem stands out in his villain role. When he got the role, I expected to see a great character and we got one with his performance as Silva. He gives Bond a adversary that is right up to par with his skills that makes him all the more scary. Ralph Fiennes is great in the role of Mallory, a government worker for the Prime Minister, and has great chemistry with Craig. I also found Naoime Harris as Eve to be a welcome addition who had a very fun and sexy chemistry with Craig.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Thomas Newman also shine in the movie. Deakins gives us easily one of the most beautifully shot movies of the year while Newman gives a heart-racing score that can lure you in with a romantic melody and then change to a fast-pace action song the second after.

The movie is brilliant and leaves you yearning for the next installment. Mendes gives us one of the most complete Bond movies up to this point both with the story and the characters tying together so well. In my opinion it excels over the very loved The Dark Knight Rises because of how well everything ties together and the fact that I feel like Mendes and his crew did a little bit better than Christopher Nolan. It is one of my favorite movies of the year and I can’t recommend this enough. Go see it!

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