Sam Mendes' "Skyfall"

(PG-13) ★★★★

What has happened to James Bond !!?? Should we start calling him James Bourne??? The change that has happened with this franchise since Daniel Craig entered the fold with Casino Royale back in 2006 is actually a very good thing  BUT purists, you know those people that are nostalgic and never want change in anything, are pissed off. I've heard everything that needs to be heard about Skyfall -the 24th and newest entry of the series- from it's the best Bond yet to it's a total disgrace. Know what was a total disgrace? Those Pierce Brosnan Bonds. Talk about miscasting. The only good one Brosnan ever made was Golden Eye. With Skyfall we are entering a new era of Bond. That's a good thing. In the film --directed by the great Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road To Perdition) -- our boy James is a drunk, has to deal with the first gay Bond Villain in Franchise history, gets shot and presumably killed, hates on British Intelligence, has NO Bond girl by his side, has a key character of the franchise die in his arms and re-visits his terrible childhood.

That's actually one thing I never thought the Bond movies would do; Go back to his past and reveal his haunted memories as an orphan. So it happens, Bond is one tortured soul. A man with flaws and more than enough glitches to offend the most innocent of fans. Now you see why this bond might not be suitable for everyone? It takes risks and most of these risks pay off big time. Once upon a time I used to think that they should have chosen Clive Owen for the role but after Casino Royale --let us forget the misbegotten Quantum Of Solace-- and Skyfall, the choice of Craig seems to be a real no brainer. Bond is as human a character as he's ever been before, thanks in large part to Craig's acting chops which reveal an extra layer of humanity to Bond. This is an actor that has invested his talent on making the role his own and he sure has done that. Almost everything works in Skyfall. From the trippy, visionary opening credits to the the new theme song sung by the ever-so talented Adele.

Of course, with all this in depth talk of what is essentially a popcorn picture one must say that the action is relentlessly thrilling. There are around 4 action set pieces here that will take your breath away and the villain -played by the ever so great Javier Bardem- is excellently evil. Bardem seems to revel in playing these fucked-up villains with bad haircuts, whatever gets him turned on I guess -- but mad props to him for another great performance. In fact I'm gonna stop right there because the film is too good to reveal in its entirety but to say that everything you thought you knew about the franchise is thrown out of the window with this one. Mendes, working with a tightly woven script, does visual miracles here. Smart move hiring the great Roger Deakins as his cinematographer. It wouldn't be out of place to call this the best looking Bond film I have ever seen.  At 143 minutes the film rarely drags even with a few minor bumps here and there + an overtly dragged on/predictable finale. It is then no surprise that reading all the rave reviews of late, many people have claimed this a renewal of the franchise. For the purists out there it will take some getting used to, because this Bond is here to stay.