Skyfall

Although I loved James Bond movies as a kid – cheesy though they were, with a lazy Roger Moore smirking through his scenes – they've done little for me as an adult, and I've only seen a couple of the post-Moore entries. (I finally saw some of the Sean Connery Bonds a couple years back. I wasn't impressed. So sue me.) Catching the newish Casino Royale on DVD, I wasn't convinced that Bond stories were worth telling anymore. But everybody had been raving about Skyfall, claiming that it recaptures all the old Bond magic, so I took a chance.

My conclusion? Skyfall's got good action, Daniel Craig is settling nicely into the iconic role, and it establishes some great potential for the next entry in the series. Otherwise, it doesn't really feel much like a Bond movie, despite the nods to the classic Monty Norman theme music, the old Aston Martin, and other insider jokes. With M (Judi Dench) and a new Q (Ben Whishaw as a boyish computer genius) taking an active part in the action, along with unexpected assistance from Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, and Naomie Harris, Skyfall feels more like a Mission: Impossible film.

Not that that's a bad thing. But despite the winning theme song by Adele, there's something missing in this Bond. Javier Bardem hams it up as a flamboyant villain with a score to settle, and he's fun to some degree, but the drama is on a remarkably small scale this time. The world is not in danger. It all comes down to just a couple of people. So while the stakes are more personal for James Bond, there's a certain lack of urgency here. There's also a notable dearth of femmes fatales: after the first half of the movie, the only Bond girl on display is M herself.

Still, the story is solid and cast and crew are flawless. The big star here is Roger Deakins' astonishingly crisp cinematography. For me, Skyfall is the film that finally makes a case for the aesthetic beauty that can be achieved with digital cameras. And Deakins and director Mendes make great use of the big screen space, masterfully leading your eye to the smallest and most crucial detail in every shot. This extraordinary visual work is reason enough to see Skyfall – digitally projected, if you please.