Since Quantum of Solace received such a brutally cold reception, Skyfall had a lot to answer for. Over the past few months, the internet has been the soundboard for a constant foreboding that Skyfall is bound to disappoint, and concerns have been raised that we have most probably seen it before in the form of... well, every other Bond film.
But Sam Mendes can be suitably smug about the latest instalment of the 007 chronicles. Of course, Skyfall is full of Bond stereotypes and blatant references to previous films - indeed, what is a Bond film without the mandatory death-by-wild-animal? But, in intentionally using props and plots from previous adventures, he crafts something wholly new. And here, we meet the James we know and love again. Except, somehow, without doing anything particularly new, Craig shows us an entirely fresh kind of Bond - soft and emotional, vulnerable and, after twenty three adventures, understandably ageing.
Barring a brief soujourn in Shanghai, the main action in Skyfall is on and under home ground, featuring pursuits through the London Underground reminiscent of the just-in-time commute we all know and loathe and action-packed scenes in rural, ethereally foggy Scotland. Skyfall coaxes elements of the classic Bond franchise into it's British bosom and, quite literally, blows them up.
Performance wise, there was hardly a flaw. Javier Bardem as 'the villain' Silver was just plain weird... utterly distressing to watch, and despite being the funniest aspect of the film his unnerving performance is on a par with Christoph Waltz's chilling Hans Landa of Inglorious Basterds. The veterans were of course on top form, with Craig using Bond's suddenly uncovered past to create a more complex and personable character than his previous efforts. We are also treated to the delightful addition of Ralph Fiennes as a morally ambiguous sparring partner for Dench, and the ever-impressive Ben Whishaw as an adorable, wool-clad 'Q'.
As Adele croons over the credits we can be safe in one conclusion - that Skyfall has reincarnated James Bond in every sense.