There are certain things that must always be preserved if one is to make a James Bond film. The shortlist includes many drinks thoughtfully sipped, a couple exotic and conflicted women, at least one gadget and three non-Western locations. There's also the occasional cheeky one-liner and a steamy shower sequence. These are the things that define the character and the franchise. Changing those elements would be turning it into something it's not.
That's why we can't really begrudge the continued presence of all of these elements in each and every film. But as a result of their inclusion, it's doubtful director Sam Mendes' vision of 007 would ever be referred to as "refreshing." And considering author Ian Fleming's character is considered a British national treasure, a complete reimagining of Bond would be unthinkable.
But Mendes does his best to put a new sheen on Daniel Craig's character. We find our hero broken down, weak and bitter. Both he and M (Judi Dench) are beginning to be seen as dinosaurs in their own organization, outmoded by hackers like the evil Silva (Javier Bardem) who effortlessly invades their fortress. Silva is ruthless, flamboyant and flirtatious. He's easily the most enjoyable aspect of the film -- with Bardem disappearing into the role and inviting humor into what would otherwise be stale territory.
Taken at face value, however, this is a good movie. The action sequences are heart-stopping. Craig effectively portrays a man mourning the loss of some of his faculties. And Dench, well, you know how that diva rolls. "Skyfall" is a quality product. It's only that some of us would like to try a new brand.
If you go
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench