Wow, James Bond is fifty, still eradicating rich, maniacal bad guys who have delusions of world domination, and charming the most beautiful women into bed with him. Many times in just one afternoon. I mean, let’s face it all you guy fans out there(including yours’ truly), a majority of us have hopelessly wished we could be 007. Sexy. Suave. Sophisticated. Even Bond girl Famke Janssen expresses the desire on the back cover of the book, “James Bond : The Legacy.” And thankfully, half a century has not tainted his style, nor the movie franchise- the longest in cinematic history. Despite a few bumps along the way, Mr. Bond has remained an indelible global icon.

   Skyfall is welcome redemption for Daniel Craig’s last outing as the British agent. While Quantum of Solace unleashed plenty of the requisite action of a Bond movie, it fizzled a bit as a revenge thriller. Exploring a resonant tone from Goldeneye, the 23rd installment gets extremely personal as our super spy must face yet another disgruntled ex MI6er in the form of brilliant cyberterrorist Raoul Silva (No Country For Old Men’s Javier Bardem), who succeeds in pilfering an extremely precious hard drive containing a list of cer-tain undercover agents that should not exist.

   Dame Judi Dench’s M, naturally comes under the most severe scrutiny by her superiors for this life threatening error, including government heavy Gareth Mallory (RalphFiennes). Not only have all these “non-existents” been compromised, but the Crown’s relationships with their allies has been threatened. Thus the title “Skyfall” is quite appropriate since that seems to be what’s happening to her world. It’s a particularly sticky situation where the head of MI6 will be facing some of the most dangerous times of her career.

     It’s undeniable that Bond bad guys have had some interesting, as well as lethalpersonalities, from the aurulent obsessed Goldfinger to the genocidal Hugo Drax in Moonraker. There should be no aversions in anyone’s mind about Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva joining this villains’ fraternity. Despite some effeminate tendencies(wait till you see what he does to Bond when he’s tied to a chair), Silva is a consummate master at computer hacking, sporting a sinister determination to avenge himself of gross injustices.

    His primary beef is with M, once again portrayed by the impeccable Ms. Dench. 007 fans have quickly grown accustomed to her cold decisiveness as Bond’s very first lady boss since her debut in Goldeneye. Although she plays a substantially more prominent role here, you see her self confidence wane a bit under the intense pressure from both her government and Silva’s maniacally strategic aggression against her and the British Secret Service.

   Aiding Bond on his mission to take down Silva is a newly introduced “Q”, a beloved character favorite we were all waiting for since the sad passing of Bond veteran Desmond Llewelyn. He’s played with a truly geekish charm by Ben Whishaw. His one scene with James is probably one of the funniest as they banter over job comparisons. And you simply cannot have a new “Quartermaster” without at least one gadget that he presents to Bond during their meeting, although there is a memorable homage to a classic Q vehicle later on.

    American Beauty’s Sam Mendes makes one powerful entrance as a Bond film director, bringing the above elements (and more of course) all together; including what is probably the most essential of all – action. Being a skillful choreographer of riveting gun fights, hand to hand combat, and thrilling foot and car chases is demanding of any Bond movie helmer. And Mendes delivers admirably.

    James Bond 007 has long outlasted American spies like James Coburn’s Derek Flint and Dean Martin’s Matt Helm and undoubtedly, as long as he continues to change with the times, will last another half century for other generations to enjoy. Skyfall has assures us that they will still be ordering their martinis, shaken, not stirred.

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