All the accusations of the Bond franchise ripping off the Jason Bourne series are overblown. If anything, this latest installment in Bond's new evolution takes the high art of murder to a beautiful new level. The theme throughout is light and shadow, and the director makes excellent use of both to illustrate how death isn't dealt only in the shadows.
The other theme is old dogs in a world full of Internet-savvy young pups. Whether it's M (Judi Dench) or Bond (Daniel Craig) himself, they recognize themselves as relics of a bygone era in which satellites and video cameras do most of the spy work for them. And yet that's what makes Bond so important in this modern age -- he goes "off the grid," where the real terror lurks.
Javier Bardem plays an embodiment of that terror, Raoul Silva, a brutally warped villain who has an understandable (if unreasonable) motive to kill M. Just as Bond has an unspoken duty to Queen and Country, the new world tests that loyalty by robbing first Bond -- then M, then the entire organization -- of its identity. When politicians drag their doings into the light of day, the franchise feels invigorated because it's finally facing up to the ludicrous issues of the past. Bond can no longer casually sip a martini without being reminded that he's drinking taxpayer's money.
And that's a good thing. "Skyfall" works so well because it's not just another installment in the franchise, it's a milestone. Things are changing for Bond, in a good way, and it gives me hope that we can expect more out of this old dog in a new world.