“Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes, is the latest addition to the James Bond franchise since it began 50 years ago with Sean Connery in “Dr. No” (1963). After earning critical acclaim for his performance in the 2006 series reboot “Casino Royale” (followed by “Quantum of Solace” in 2008), Daniel Craig assumes the role of James Bond for the third time. “Skyfall,” which was released on Nov. 9, features England’s favorite MI6 agent after a more elusive target while highlighting the parts of Bond we love best—chases, gadgets and girls—and playfully hints at his dynamic history in film.

When the movie begins in Istanbul, the audience is immediately thrown into an incredible action sequence. Bond and Eve (Naomie Harris), another MI6 operative, are in pursuit of a hard drive containing the identities of their fellow agents. The head of the operation, M, is forced to make a decision that nearly kills Bond. Overall, the scenes are packed with energy and involve motorcycle chases on rooftops and fights on moving trains. Obstacles escalate when the MI6 database is hacked by cyber terrorists, and Bond’s loyalty to M is explicitly challenged when he meets Silva (Javier Bardem), an ex-agent on a personal vendetta against M. Meanwhile, the very purpose of the entire MI6 institution comes into question when people doubt its purpose in today’s society.

This doubt also folds into the homage that this picture is creating for its predecessors. Old inventions like exploding pens, that were once the latest invention, are poked fun at while Bond’s timeless travels and efforts against the impossible engage us to take one more journey with him. Titles from previous films can be recognized in dialogue as the classic characters in Bond establish permanent roles by the end of the film. Without giving too much away, there are exotic, man-eating creatures, a disfigured villain and even original theme music.

Aside from the notable celebration of Bond, the film is also appealing to those not familiar with its history. “Skyfall” is particularly noteworthy in its artistic approach to film. Not only do we have heightened action sequences and explosions, but there is also a glamorous appeal. A lot of the scenes were especially colorful and poetic. At one point Bond fights a hitman in a glass room before a shining video banner that allows only their silhouettes to appear against its dream-like vibrance. This technique serves to contrast the violence and makes this film its own.

As the 23rd Bond film, marking its 50th anniversary, “Skyfall” focuses almost exclusively on Bond and his loyalty as an agent. Neither of the love interests even get a quarter of the time that Bond is on screen. This movie is all Bond at his best, utilizing intense special effects, colorful scenery and the classic characteristics that let Bond compete with other action films while still maintaining its timeless identity.

Rating: 4 stars