‘Skyfall’ is James Bond at his most accessible and nostalgic

Daniel Craig in ‘Skyfall.’ Rated PG-13, 143 min. Columbia Pictures, 2012.

In Daniel Craig’s first two films as the latest James Bond, the series took a deeper, darker, more nuanced turn. The films were artistic achievements, but the many characters and labyrinthine plots lacked the pure enjoyment that made the series such escapist fun. In time for Bond’s 50th anniversary on screen, “Skyfall” turns the clock back on the series, offering up a much more palatable balance of timely conflicts and retro cool.

The plot is about as straightforward as a Bond movie gets, in a good way: an evil genius (Javier Bardem) seeks revenge on his former boss, MI6 chief M (Judi Dench), who calls on her top agent, 007 (Craig) for help. Along the way, there are thrilling chases – train, motorcycle, subway – fights, and of course, women (Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe).

Among the most crowd-pleasing moments are call-backs to classic Bond memories, like martinis, exploding pens, Aston Martins and the familiar musical theme. Thankfully, these winks are tastefully done and never make a mockery of the character. Instead, they help remind you of how far the franchise has come, and will make you even more hopeful for its future.

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