MINOR HINTS AT SPOILERS INCLUDED - NO REAL PLOT GIVEN AWAY
It's here! At last I have seen Bond 23, Skyfall, and I can confirm... it is amazing.
There really isn't that much more to say about it, except to bask in it's brilliance. I didn't expect it to live up to the hype and the incredible reviews it's had - but it did. It was as brilliant as people are saying. In my recent reviews I've moaned about how emotion/action aren't always balanced, and though emotion isn't present in the same ways as it has been before, it is undoubtedly key in Skyfall, and certainly as you get towards the end. The emotion is put in all the right places, the tension is built perfectly, and the film opens with such an awesome introduction that you are hooked from then on. You might fall asleep a bit in the middle, as the action does slow down, but tension comes in it's place.
In terms of anything bad about it, it's difficult to pinpoint. Everything has it's strengths. The plot is not only interesting, it's also very easy to understand and conveyed in an exciting way. There are no big plot discussion scenes, and any of these that there are hints of soon veer towards character rather than plot. This is a character-driven film, but I didn't notice it as dramatically as I did with On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Casino Royale. It's a character-driven film, not about new characters, but about characters you already know and love. There's no need to get to know them, as you did in OHMSS and Royale, with characters like Tracy and Vesper.
That's the other thing missing from Skyfall. Bond girls. Though they are there for a bit (and to be fair the scene that one of them is in is.. frankly the worst the scene in the whole thing), they aren't important. This is about Bond, about M, about the Secret Service and about Silva, who is portrayed brilliantly. He is a truly repulsive villain, who's got proper character. He doesn't need a hollowed-out volcano - because he has the power and the character, and that's enough. Everything in Skyfall is fully formed, everything is understandable, and everything is routed in either things you already know or things you quickly learn.
The nods to the past are great, and M's comebacks to a lot of them are just as great. Though I felt Bond's quips were completely in place, some of them weren't as sharp as they could've been. Eve (who's a character I'm sure we'll get to know more) doesn't really succeed in delivering the fast lines at first, but she picks them up, arguably as Bond's one-liners get less sharp. There's a sense of balance between the two of them, and both of them are truly modern characters.
On the subject of modern characters, we have Q. Who is bloody brilliant. He's superb, just as I imagined him, but absolutely superb. His relationship with Bond is fantastic, and it's good that Craig's Bond hasn't been given John Cleese as Q, because it allows Craig to develop his own relationship with the Quartermaster. M is fantastic as well, Judi Dench is incredible in the role. And she finally gets to fire a gun! That just leaves characters like Tanner, who is awesome, and Mallory who... isn't that great. I can't say I warmed to him particularly, which could be a potential problem, especially since Skyfall allows you to get so close to Judi Dench's character.
The action in this film is great. It all works well, it feels real, and you can follow it. It feels more comfortable, and rather than making the film seem like an old-style Bond film (as perhaps Quantum of Solace did), it brings Bond action sequences into a new age. The whole film finally completes Bond's rebirth - and it's done brilliantly.
So in short. Go and see it. Sam Mendes' direction is perfect, the music is also fantastic (and not as out of place and noticeable as it was in Quantum), and all the actors perform their parts to their very best abilities. Though perhaps characters like Eve and certainly Mallory feel a little lacklustre at times, and some of the returns are good but not as sharp as they could be, these are minor problems. They're covered by the sheer brilliance of plot, character and direction.
Oh - and the title sequence is the best one they've done. Ever.
So is this the best Bond film forever? I always felt nothing could beat OHMSS. But Skyfall gives the OHMSS treatment, which is a good mix of emotion and action, to characters we know. OHMSS didn't do this as much - and it's not only Bond we see affected in Skyfall. The development of all the characters, the outstanding action sequences which are simply fantastic lead to me saying that yes.
This is the best ever Bond film. It's Bond for a new age. And long may it last.