For the first time, Judi Dench’s M is intimately involved with the action – Silva’s specific beef is with her, and it plays out as a combination of vengeance and mommy issues. Near the end, Bardem does one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen from a Bond villain, and it works because you’re watching Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench, and there’s nothing they can’t do.
In the end, Skyfall breaks Bond down and sets up a new, yet familiar, status quo. Of course, since we’re talking about James Bond, none of it could matter by the time the next move comes around. But for the first time in years, I’m excited about the future of the franchise. Skyfall delivers both as Bond’s 50th birthday present, and as a movie in and of itself.