Its been a while since I've uttered those three words and actually meant them. Skyfall is a spectacular return to form for the world's greatest spy and the longest running movie franchise in cinema history.
Producers Barbara Broccolli and Michael G.Wilson rope in prestigious director Sam Mendes and a powerhouse supporting cast (that includes Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes) to helm this 23rd outing and Mendes undoubtedly delivers something special to his superiors - a supremely stylish, exhilarating and unapologetic British Bond movie that manages to take the iconic character to uncharted, gutsier and audacious dimensions. It's the benchmark for future Bond movies to come.
An adrenalin-fuelled chase sequence on the rooftops of Istanbul, with the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar in the background, kicks off proceedings before Adele's deep, velvety vocals play over a Gothic title sequence that gives tantalising clues about what lies ahead for the next 146 mins. What lies ahead is both a dance with tradition and a stroke of genius.
A mysterious nemesis from M's past has returned to personally target the offices of MI6 and M herself. When the threats become real and the danger gets too close to home, Bond is dispatched to terminate the threat. The reason behind the threats, the identity of the man that it stems from and how it all plays out, is what gives Skyfall the emotional depth and distinction criminally absent from the films with the exception of Casino Royale back in 2006.
In so many ways Skyfall is both a Bond movie and the antithesis to a Bond movie. There are nods to previous films and previous Bonds, tastefully done to please the fans and to celebrate the franchise as it clocks in a glorious 50 years. The touch with the Aston Martin DB5 is sublime and the third and final act, beautifully shot in the Scottish Highlands, is perhaps the greatest tribute one can give to Sean Connery.
But the emphasis of what makes Bond tick, who he is, brief glimpses into his traumatic childhood and questions about the tactics used by modern day intelligence services gives the film an air of relevance and reality and roots it firmly in the world around us.
If the writing, scenery, cinematography (Roger Deakins proves once again that he's God behind the camera) don't manage to blow you away then the level of acting on the screen certainly will. Mendes has always had the skill of extracting fine performances from his actors and the acting talent here is phenomenal.
In the pivotal role as M, Judi Dench gets more to do here than ever before. She takes up the challenge and embellishes the role with a lifetime of grace, experience and authority.
Ralph Fiennes is commanding and polished as M's devious and bureaucratic new boss - you're never quite sure what side he's on. But Skyfall ultimately belongs to two very defiant and powerful performers - Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem.
This is Craig's third and finest outing as 007 and he's never been more confident, complex, in-control and assured as James Bond. He's the first Bond to be on par with Connery and may just be able to step out of the long shadow that Sean has placed on the character and the films.
Sam Mendes, thank you for Skyfall.