Although the least ambitious Bond film since Daniel Craig assumed the role, Skyfall is accomplished work in many aspects, and Sam Mendes' straightforward approach has yielded a compelling result, and the best film of his career thus far. The film's chief attribute is its foundation of unpredictability - even as events unravel as expected, the screenplay makes some sudden, and most appreciated, deviations, all essential to sustaining our interest. There's nothing especially radical about what happens, but it's at least a change from the standard 007 formula, and Mendes and the writers do a fair job of ensuring that their film's segments all cohere. Perhaps even better is the film's lack of agenda - no need to reboot (Casino Royale), no particular topical push nor deepening of character (Quantum of Solace), just a slight refresh after the dour Quantum. There are many references to Bond's age, four years on, and Craig does look a little worn, although that might be the point. Judi Dench, upon whom almost the entire plot is focused, is very good, as is Javier Bardem - he hams it up like never before here, and he's not half bad at it. His villain is a throwback to the more cartoonish nemeses Bond once faced, but if there's one franchise which cannot be spoiled by such garish characterisation, it's this franchise, even now that an air of respectability has been cultivated about it. So quaint and corny were these films until late that nearly anything is an improvement, and one or two cheeky indulgences won't hurt. Anyway, whatever sins the filmmakers may have committed in maintaining credibility (which they never fail to instantly recover) are absolved purely on the strength of the cinematography. There are so many spectacular frames courtesy of cinematography maestro Roger Deakins, you'll wonder why they never invested in such a talent long ago for such a stylish series of films. One momentary shot of weapons laid on a table could be outright the prettiest thing I've seen in a film all year were it not for the competition it faces from the rest of this gorgeous film.