How not to miss the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise? Especially with the likes of Daniel Craig (as Bond – if you didn't know already), the phenomenal Judy Dench as 'M', Ralph Fiennes as the initially questionable but later reliable Gareth Mallory (a former army lieutenant colonel turned bureaucrat), Ben Wishaw as the new, nerdy, but endearing as ever 'Q', Albert Finney in a surprising, adorable role which must be kept secret at this point, and all of the aforementioned exceptional actors directed by the great Sam Mendes.
So does the movie live up to expectations? Not quite. Which is not to say that you shouldn't go see it. Skyfall packs some delights regardless of its sometimes casual pacing and a few interminable "oh, I've seen that before" action scenes. Of course, I can't mention all of them here to protect the readers from spoilers, but I can say that, if anything, watch the film for the revelation of what Skyfall means. I can guarantee that it won't be what you think, far from it.
In the 50 years that Bond has been around, there have been hits and misses. Some have been due to terrible casting choices for Bond (Timothy Dalton comes to mind), and some have been due to terrible writing (case in point, the oozing cheesiness of the Pierce Brosnan Bonds where every other line is littered with hackneyed sexual innuendo). There is also, of course, the ever-relevant argument of who has played the perfect Bond thus far (Sean Connery of course).
So despite some people's concerns that Daniel Craig is not quite English enough to be a great Bond, I think he comes in pretty close to Sean Connery. With Craig's casting and the revamping of the Bond franchise with the almost perfect Casino Royale (2006) where we go back to Bond's early days and learn of the loss of his first love, Vesper Lynd (played by the luminous, impossibly lovely Eva Green), we finally understand some of the psychology behind the smooth, ever suave, lady-killing Bond that we have come to know.
Quantum of Solace (2008) followed in that vein, picking up where Royale ended, with Bond, now harder and more cynical than ever, coolly hunting down Vesper's killers.
In today's world, studios can no longer justify even a Bond film where the main character is a casual killer. With Skyfall and the two films that precede it, the filmmakers have attempted something different, an action film with real back story, creating a fuller and rounder Bond (and no, clearly I don't mean fat) than we have ever seen before. The franchise is the better for it, even though the most recent film doesn't quite live up to its lofty goals.
Nevertheless, a Bond film can never be wholly disappointing, and Skyfall is far from bad. The usually stunning, but also sometimes annoying Bond girls are present, there are two, in fact, and just to lure the viewer a little further (and this 'spoiler' I can't resist), Moneypenny returns.
Skyfall is currently playing in theatres.