There are so many thrilling components that work and Sam Mendes expertly balances a dark and realistic story with plenty of homages to the Bond series. It feels fresh and familiar at the same time. Much like Nolan's second chapter, The Dark Knight, there is plenty of subtext and much to ruminate over. After what is the best Bond opening EVER, the story becomes thematically rich, emotionally powerful and has one of the all-time best Bond villains. (Thanks to Roger Deakins, they also end up with the most visually striking Bond film). Simply put: Skyfall is a strong competitor for the best 007 film, giving Casino Royale a run for its money. One of my favorite themes in the film is how it's all about going back to the origins. It's addressing the validity of old age. Are Bond, M and MI6 all finished? The characters return to their past - it's an origin story (and trilogy), both for Bond but also for the franchise. Back to the basics is a re-occurring element throughout. Happy 50th indeed. One of the thematic elements that I'm intrigued by is summed up in the re-occurring line, "Think upon your sins". This permeates throughout the film...
In the very first scene we see Bond trying to save a guy from bleeding to death. M tells him to forget about the dying victim and continue with the mission. This is constant throughout. MI6 is not really interested in saving lives. For example, Bond waits in Shanghai until the sniper kills. Or when the poor Bond girl gets shot by Bardem moments before Bond and MI6 capture him. It seems there are countless of characters (both trivial and important) that pay with their lives. Naturally, this is what links Bond to the villain. They've both been wronged by MI6. What a great motivation for the antagonist - to make Mi6 pay for their neglect and sins.
I also love the whole back-to-basics approach. From the seduction in the shower, to the Aston martin, to Q and the gadgets, totally simplified with just a gun and radio, to the "new" headquarters of MI6 (totally old school), to even the sweet Live and Let Die reference when Bond leaps across a reptile's back. It's a complete origin story, not just for Bond - his home, Skyfall - but also for the franchise. With this Daniel Craig trilogy, his origins are complete. As he says, "Skyfall? DONE. Mum has indeed done one thing right - she created Bond and now he's ready for his role as 007 with "Pleasure".
Director: Sam Mendes