The most recent installment in the James Bond franchise landed like a retro, blinking pen bomb in Regal Stadium 8 on Gay Street at 12:07 a.m. Friday. Enthusiastic patrons, many sporting Bond attire, lined the theater lobby over an hour in advance to ensure good seating for the hyped premier of "Skyfall." Their efforts were rewarded with what is being hailed as one of the best "007" films of all time.
With multidimensional poise and vigor, Daniel Craig's incarnation of Bond is fully realized in "Skyfall" for the first time. On the whole, Craig's performance successfully marries the dark, brooding and troubled agent from "Casino Royal" and "Quantum of Solace" with elements of classic Bond previously absent from Craig's character. The result is staggering: a James Bond who is sophisticated, immeasurably capable and, at the same time, human.
"Skyfall" successfully sidesteps the gimmicky, near-comical elements of past Bond films while still hitting the high notes, including the return of Agent Q, some classic secret agent gadgetry and an appearance by the original Bond Aston Martin DB5. To top it off, Javier Bardem's performance as rogue agent Raoul Silva stands as a new measuring stick against which all Bond villains should be gauged.
The film has also cast new light on some familiar faces. Judi Dench's recurring character M is, for the first time in seven Bond films, fully developed. Her loyalty to Bond is brought into question in the movie's opening chase sequence and is continually challenged by Silva's account of the past. In the end, M stands as the personification of tough love, tasked with making the right decision in a variety of no-win situations. Her relationship with Bond is first faltered, then redeemed by this dynamic.
With a former agent as its villain, the film's dramatic tension and overall focus comes from within. Throughout the film the theme of internal struggle defines Bond's journey as a character and brings the central conflict to his home fronts, the MI6 headquarters and the house where he grew up. Within the narrative, "Skyfall" puts at stake the relevance of secret agents and the existence of MI6 in a modern context, while exploring unresolved elements from Bond's past. It is all at once a story of resurrection, introspection and redemption.
"Skyfall" director Sam Mendes has taken the Bond franchise to new heights. The characters are more developed, the story is deeper, and Bond himself just may be better than ever before. With the largest opening weekend figures in franchise history, "Skyfall" is James Bond like never before.