Reason Senior Editor Peter Suderman reviews Skyfall, the twenty-third James Bond film, in today's Washington Times:
When I first heard that "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes had been tapped to make the newest James Bond film, I wondered how the choice might transform the series. Would we find Bond sitting in a McMansion wearing a cardigan and brooding over a failed marriage? Would his spy gadgetry be disguised as high-end kitchen appliances that symbolize the emptiness of American life? Would we discover in the end that the true enemy was, in fact, the inescapable horror of suburban ennui? Would he switch his drink order to white wine?
Fortunately the answer on all counts is a firm no. With "Skyfall," the 23rd entry in the Bond franchise, Mr. Mendes has not altered Bond so much as found the character's core and polished it up for a modern age. He has made a Bond film that is different from its predecessors, but almost entirely in ways that are improvements. It is the most beautiful Bond film. It is the darkest Bond film. It is the most psychologically revealing Bond film. And for these reasons, it may also be the best.
The movie's story is simple — left for dead after a botched mission, Bond (played for the third time by Daniel Craig), the storied British superspy, must rebuild himself in order to confront an enemy from the agency's past, one who knows all its tricks. It's an apt metaphor for the way the movie handles its central character: Bond, facing down his own history and potential obsolescence, asserts both the value of all that came before and his continued strength today. The movie is not merely another globe-trotting adventure but an argument for the permanent relevance of Bond: past, present and future.