M: Quoting Tennyson's poem Ulysses: Though much is taken, much abides; and though
M: We are not now that strength which in old days
M: Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are...
M: One equal temper of heroic hearts,
M: Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
M: To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Daniel Craig's portrayal of James Bond has been the most practical of the series; though views/opinions have differed on his take of the iconic character; his has been my favourite. Skyfall follows Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale, in depicting a character that has yet to master the art of espionage, thus there are some telling flaws like depression and the obvious loss of his shooting prowess; yet there's no question to where Bond's loyalty lies (although it would seem like its M rather than Queen & Country).
Sam Mendes' direction was top class, bringing back classic bond. The action scenes, especially the opening sequence in Turkey, were marvelous bringing back that sense of adventure through the effective use of the various locations, depicting their exoticism like Macau, Shanghai - which for some reason reminded me of The Dark Knight and Scotland, a genre that Bond films have failed to use effectively in recent times.
The biggest improvement of the reboot is the introduction of a villain worthy of the title, in Raoul Silver (portrayed by Javier Bardem); this is a character that possesses the wits, charm and some sort of "quality-badness" that nearly eclipses Bond's. And as for his blonde hair, well after reading Jany Tamime's interview on GQ, my deduction is thus Silver is a character that is a near opposite to Bond, despite his surroundings he always looks impeccably neat and his hair which may seem like a distraction represents it on a subconscious level - my advise .... Go with the flow! As for his sexuality, well ... *shrug*
Unlike Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Skyfall isn't totally about Bond becoming a super-spy, rather the sub-plot is focused on M (Judi Dench's), and this is the only Bond movie to give room for the background of the infamous 'M'. While Skyfall appears to be her last, she delivers brilliantly. Judi Dench was never eclipsed by either of the films major characters (Bond and Silver); rather her relationship with the both of them, which is reminiscent of a mother/child situation, appeared to be a connection between both characters and how she reacts with both of them shows exactly where their allegiances would lie, thus Bond being the good guy and Silver being the bad. Dame Judi Dench's portrayal of M, for the last time, was truly amazing.
As for Daniel Craig's acting, not quite there with Casino Royale but then a huge improvement from Quantum; and that was a breath of fresh air. His portrayal and physique made bond look like he could actually accomplish his missions, and as for the ladies, this character still needs to go back to the drawing board. While Naomi Harris' Eve was awesome in the field, I'm not quite sure how the producers plan on spinning her as Moneypenny, who is known to constantly flirt with Bond; as both did not seem to have such chemistry through out, of course, it's still hard picturing Craig being all smooth with the ladies.
While the role of Bond girls have always been a big deal, on and off screen, Bérénice Marlohe as Sévérine is one Bond girl I almost didn't notice right till she was killed, her character felt underutilized as she barely commanded a scene at any point in time in the entire picture; the proper Bond girl, or woman here, is Judy Dench's M, who refused to stay in the shadows. Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw as Gareth Mallory and Q respectively, though had limited screen times, both impressed highly in their roles; Fiennes' Mallory was a surprise especially in the shootout at M's public inquiry and Whishaw's Q bringing "geekyness" and gadgets back to the Bond series.
Finally, I tip my hat to Sam Mendes for giving a worthy epilogue to a wonderful film franchise - you have to see it to know it, as it leaves you with this sense of fulfillment that the next Bond film will be brilliant (... at least that's how I saw it)
PS: Besides Bond adjusting his cuffs after being shot and jumping of a Caterpillar excavator onto a moving train, my go-to-moment in the film is the rat story Bardem's Raoul Silver tells brilliantly as his character's image surfaces, if you've not seen it please do watch out for it.
Raoul Silva: [to Bond] We are the two rats left. We can either eat each other... huh ? Or eat everyone else.