It has been four years since Daniel Craig graced the screen as James Bond, in large part due to financial issues with MGM studio. Thankfully the matters were resolved and Academy award-winning director Sam Mendes kept his schedule free to avoid any conflicts that would have kept him from filming the latest chapter in the series. “Skyfall” has a very satisfying and enjoyable plot that twist and turns yet is not difficult to follow as it takes the audience on an emotional roller coaster.

After being wounded in the line of duty, Bond has gone missing and is assumed dead by everyone at MI6. While recuperating, Bond is in no hurry to let the world or his former comrades know that he still alive, becoming very dependent on alcohol and medication to help him cope.

A list of all the operatives in deep cover operations has fallen into the wrong hands which places not only the agents’ lives, but the effectiveness of the British Secret Service, in grave danger. As a result, the head of MI6, M (Dame Judy Dench), is fighting not only for the lives of her agents, but for her very career as she is strongly encourage to ease into retirement by the new government minister named Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes).

As if M’s troubles could not get any worse without her primary operative, an explosion rocks the MI6 headquarters as M returns from her meeting with Mallory. It becomes very clear that the person in possession of list has a personal score to settle with M, and delights in taunting her and her agents online as he executes a deadly plan of revenge.
Following the explosion, Bond resurfaces and demands to return to active duty despite having physical and mental issues as a result of his last mission. Mallory and others urge Bond to get out of the game and leave it for younger men, but Bond’s sense of honor and duty drive him to face the challenge.

With exotic locales ranging from Shanghai, Macau, Turkey, as well as London and Scotland, “Skyfall” captures the best of Bond with a gripping story that will have you hooked for the film’s entire 2 1/2 hours run time.

The introduction of Javier Bardem to the series was a masterful stroke as he plays a Bond villain unlike others. He is not a mega-millionaire bent on conquering the world, but rather he is a sympathetic and somewhat tragic figure that is a very kindred spirit to Bond himself.

The hallmark of the series has always been great action pieces and stunt work and “Skyfall”, does not disappoint in this category. I am very impressed with how computer generated effects were kept to an absolute minimum in the movie and how Craig and cast really went all out for their demanding and physical roles.

Mendes is to be commended for his work. Not only is the film wonderful to look at capturing the darkness of the world Bond operates in as well as the lavish beauty of the locales in which he travels. The stark contrast between light and dark in the film aptly portrays the psyche of Bond as he’s truly a person haunted by demons and the film even allows us greater insight into his character and past than has previously been seen before.

Naomi Harris and Bérénice Marlohe are the latest of Bond girls and they prove that they are more than just eye candy for the film, as they both are complex and strong women who complement the story well instead of being gratuitous sidekicks and obligatory damsels in distress.

The action-filled finale is very satisfying and the film concludes very well setting up the next chapters in the series very well. I had not been as big offensive glass to Daniel Craig films as I have of certain past Bond films. My biggest issue was that the new version of bond comes across more as a common thug rather than the suave, sophisticated, gentleman killer that I had grown to associate with bond.

This time around the film has much more of a balance in this regard as there is a quiet strength to Craig’s performance as he seems more comfortable in the role than he had in previous outings. We know that he can carry the physical demands of the role, this time around Mendes encouraged him to open up his emotional range which allowed for a more diverse and complex Bond than we had seen previously. I truly think that his work in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” really helped Craig as he did a masterful job playing a complex character with flaws, and seemed much more comfortable in bringing more bonds demons to light.

I’m extremely happy with the film and especially love the movie’s dénouement which, for me, promises a very good and eagerly anticipated direction for future films.

4 out of 5 stars