“The ‘Skyfall’ is the Limit!”

Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem
Directed by Sam Mendes

Just over 50 years to the day after the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” had its world premiere in the United Kingdom (on October 5, 1962 – amazingly, the same day that The Beatles released their first single, “Love Me Do”), “Skyfall” finally touches down in theaters and proves that when it comes to supreme spy thrillers, nobody does it better than Agent 007. (Take that, Jason Bourne!)

So, in honor of Mr. Bond’s 50th Anniversary, here are 50 reasons why “Skyfall” – the 23rd installment of the official James Bond franchise – is indeed the best Bond movie in decades, since 1964’s “Goldfinger.” (And the fact that I can actually list 50 great things to say about it leaves me shaken, not stirred.)

1- It’s the first James Bond movie to be directed by an Oscar-winner: Sam Mendes (1999’s “American Beauty”)
2- It’s the first Bond movie that actually has a shot of getting nominated for Best Picture (yes, it’s that good; keep reading…)
3- It’s a rebound from 2008’s underwhelming “Quantum of Solace,” making the four-year gap between Bond films worth the wait.
4- The action-packed pre-title sequence is one of the best in Bond history.
5- That’s because, among other things, it includes a motorcycle chase across the crowded rooftops of Istanbul.
6- It maintains its gripping pace from start to finish.
7- The “Skyfall” theme song is performed by multi-Platinum Grammy-winner Adele…
8- …and it is, by far, the best Bond theme song since 1981’s “For Your Eyes Only.”
9- The stylish title sequence will bring a smile to the face of anyone who grew up with the Roger Moore movies.
10- The outstanding musical score is composed by Oscar-nominee Thomas Newman (“American Beauty”).
11- There are times when Newman’s score pays tribute to one of John Barry’s classic Bond scores (Barry composed the music for a whopping 11 James Bond movies).
12- Newman also tips his hat to the original Bond theme composed by Monty Norman.
13- The plot – about an embittered terrorist (Javier Bardem) who has a personal grudge against MI6 boss M (Judi Dench) – is the most plausible and grounded in reality of any Bond film since 1963’s “From Russia With Love.”
14- Bond doesn’t get overloaded with high-tech gadgets, so “Skyfall” won’t look dated before it’s time (for example, “The Spy Who Loved Me” was cutting edge for 1977, but now it looks pretty cheesy.)
15- Ben Whishaw makes a fine debut as a young and snappy Q, who gives Bond the few gadgets he needs.
16- The brilliant, clever, funny and fresh screenplay (written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan) effectively pays tribute to Bond’s past…
17- …his present…
18- …and his future, as it resets the series for the next 50 years.
19- But it still works as a stand-alone story.
20- That means Bond fans will love it…
21- …and non-Bond fans will love it too.
22- As for another nod to Bond’s past, two words: Aston Martin.
23- The story is gripping…
24- …it’s really smart…
25- …and, of course, it’s sexy and loads of fun.
26- Thankfully, it doesn’t feature a convoluted story about a cat-stroking madman who wants to take over the world…
27- …and it makes Bond relevant in the 21st Century by describing his current enemies as being “among us” and “without borders.”
28- After his terrific debut in 2006’s “Casino Royale,” Daniel Craig renews his license to kill as the coolest, darkest and most rugged Bond since Sean Connery.
29- In fact, he’s so cool that when he goes to order his signature martini “shaken, not stirred,” he doesn’t even have to say anything to the bartender.
30- “Skyfall” depicts James Bond as a vulnerable, flawed hero – both physically…
31- …and emotionally, thanks to a final act that makes “Skyfall” the most moving Bond installment since 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
32- We even learn a little about Bond’s childhood.
33- After playing the character since 1995’s “Goldeneye,” Oscar-winner Judi Dench gets a piece of the action and has a much more prominent role as M.
34- The movie is all the better for it, thanks to her great chemistry with Daniel Craig.
35- Oscar-winner Javier Bardem is amazing as Bond’s adversary: a flamboyant former agent named Silva.
36- In fact, he’s so good that it’s hard to believe he doesn’t even appear until more than halfway through the 2 hour and 23 minute movie.
37- There are interesting similarities between Silva and the Joker from “The Dark Knight,” since both use the officials as pawns in an effort to carry out their plans.
38- And as with Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, Bardem is fun to watch while never losing any sense of how dangerous and sadistic he can be.
39- In addition to Istanbul, “Skyfall” takes place all over the world, including picturesque locales like Shanghai…
40- …Scotland…
41- …and, of course, jolly old England.
42- They still know how to pick the Bond girls: French actress Berenice Marlohe is both ravishing and mysterious as Severine, Bond’s only link to catch the villainous Silva.
43- Naomie Harris is equally stunning as Eve, a tough field agent who holds her own with Daniel Craig…
44- …and that all but ensures that she’ll be around for the next movie.
45- Speaking of which, “Skyfall” has more than a few surprises that set the stage for the next installment…
46- …and it literally promises that you won’t have to wait another four years to get it.
47- “Skyfall” is not just a great Bond movie…
48- …it’s a great movie, period.
49- That makes it one of the best films of 2012.
50- And, finally, the most important reason of all why “Skyfall” is the best Bond movie in decades: You couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of James Bond, proving once again that nobody does it better, indeed.

-Scott Mantz