"Skyfall" *** 1/2
RATED PG-13 (intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking)
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
CAST: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier BardemIn an early scene in "Skyfall," an aging M angrily turns to James Bond and says, "You know the rules of the bloody game. We've played it long enough."
Replies a battered and psychologically scarred Bond, "Maybe too long."
"Skyfall" is the 23rd film in the franchise's 50-year history, and at times, it has felt that, indeed, this spy game has gone on for too long. There have certainly been attempts at the tricky proposition of bringing Bond into the modern world while still keeping all those elements that have made it one of the most successful film series ever. It worked with 2006's "Casino Royale" (the first to star Daniel Craig); not so much with 2008's "Quantum of Solace."
But with "Skyfall," it turns out that there is still a lot of life in the world of 007. Once again starring Craig and directed by Sam Mendes (not anyone's first choice to direct an action flick), this is a brilliant reboot of the canon, mixing a sense of melancholy, the shock of changing times and the darkness of loss with thrillingly staged chase and fight scenes and clever references to all that has come before.