How do you make a 50-year-old film franchise new again? By letting it feel its age.
With wry geriatric jokes, a plot that strikes 007 right where he lives and even some throwback gadgets, Skyfall gives James Bond a delightfully retro reboot. It also establishes Daniel Craig, who plays Bond, as the only man who can rival Sean Connery as lord of the spies.
Turns out, the first step in reviving Bond is to kill him. Under orders to shoot a foreign operative carrying a list of Britain's undercover agents, Bond's fellow spy Eve (Naomie Harris) accidentally hits 007.
The master spy uses the incident to disappear, but he returns to MI6 when he learns his boss M (Judi Dench) is the target of terrorists. After sparring with a disturbingly youthful new Q (Cloud Atlas's Ben Whishaw), James tracks down the baddie, a mastermind named Silva (Javier Bardem), who is by turns hilarious and deeply creepy.
Director Sam Mendes gives the cast space to do more than dodge bullets, but the action sequences and stunning locations (be prepared for a sudden urge to visit Shanghai) don't disappoint. The result? A film that honors the Bond tradition and makes the spy feel totally relevant – provided his creaky knees hold out.