Skyfall (PG) * * * *

Bond Begins!

Take nothing for granted. Words of wisdom that should come James Bond’s way herald the return of the British master spy in Skyfall, a wonderful adventure from MGM and Columbia Pictures now going down in history at the Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Cineplex Odeon Theatres around the world. Fear not, 007 fans. This 23rd film in the venerable series is non-stop fun from the moment go.

No costs were spared in this global opus that breathes new life into the Bond franchise. Back to the 60s we go as new director Sam Mendes takes us deep inside the British agent’s psyche as well as those of his superiors in an effort to unmask a deadly criminal. No less than the survival of the British homeland is at stake when Daniel Craig tuxes up for his third go round as the dashing spy. Unlike his previous two encounters with deadly villains (and vexing babes) this time out Bond faces off with a man his equal in more ways than one.

First there were quibbles about Craig being the first blonde Bond. Such childish musings were quickly put aside from the moment Craig appeared on screen in Casino Royale, a very smart reboot of the franchise. With Skyfall Mendes and the writers have upped the ante an in tnd invented an evil cad through and through named Raoul Silva. Slippery as a shark is top Latin actor Javier Bardem who oozes evil as the ruthless killer who gives Bond more trouble than he could ever bargain for.

With the lifeline of Mother England hanging in the balance it’s an all out battle royal as Bond and MI6 try to stave off elimination in this free wheeling action packed thriller that’s smart and full of style. Travel jaunts to Istanbul, Shanghai and good old Scotland are used to great advantage in this 2 hours and twenty minute adventure. From the opening brooding Adele theme song and the proper insertion of the Bond theme Skyfall just rocks. And the back-up cast in this movie is probably the best yet. This time out Judy Dench gets even more screen time and there’s some fine acting work from Ralph Fiennes and new gadget man Ben Whishlaw.

Oh, and let’s not forget the women thrust James’s way. Among the delicious damsels are French actress Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris. Smart on all fronts, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli deserve a big thank you for making this movie a truly wonderful way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the most popular film series ever. How very proud must Ian Fleming and Albert (Cubby) R. Broccoli must be of their children’s preservation of the series and enhancement of it.