Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris
It wasn’t particularly reassuring when Sam Mendes became the latest A-lister to tackle the Bond franchise, his failure to register a worthy follow-up to debut smash “American Beauty” having lasted for more than a decade now. Thankfully, “Skyfall” is a return to form for the British filmmaker, its flag-waving patriotism omnipresent but on this occasion diluted with the dense, loaded political context of a Christopher Nolan film (Mendes himself has admitted Nolan’s influence), and an inherently personal motive for its villain beyond megalomania and terrorism. Like “Quantum of Solace” this feels like a transitory entrant in the 007 series (one would hope that the next installment be considerably more fun) but the use of literary roots adds dimension to an otherwise excellently-staged action adventure, and Craig continues to impress in his stint as the agent. It feels as though the character badly needs a boost, but in the stakes of entertainment “Skyfall” is yet another slam dunk for fans of this ever-adapting world of espionage.