You know the drill: Sean Connery is the only James Bond.
There will never be a villain like Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me. Nobody plays M like Bernard Lee. No Bond film referenced the original novels like Dr. No. There could never be a Bond theme to match Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger.
Thunderball is the biggest box office hit of all the Bond films, if you adjust for inflation. The blood diamonds in Die Another Day make it the Bond film most rooted in contemporary issues. And blah, blah, blah.
Everyone has a favourite Bond film.
Everyone has a soft spot for the first James Bond movie he or she ever saw.
It's impossible to overstate how electrifying one's first brush with Bond really is, especially if you were introduced to 007's world on the big screen and at a time when you were just a bit too young for all the heady sex and violence the movies contained.
(This is memory talking, of course, not reality -- look back at your favourite Bond movie and chances are you'll be stunned by its innocence.)
There are a hundred reasons why people might prefer one Bond movie over another, but the truth is, those reasons are often based in nostalgia.
Except for Skyfall. The movie, which opens Thursday, is already in theatres in Europe, South America and the Middle East. Critics and regular moviegoers alike are heralding Skyfall as the best James Bond movie ever made.
And it is.
Skyfall has a couple of things going for it that no other Bond movie can match. There are certainly other Bond films made by great directors. This isn't the first with a terrific cast, an impressive Bond, an awesome villain, knockout Bond girls, a thrilling song, witty repartee or gobsmacking action scenes, but it may be the first that has all those elements at once -- plus breathtaking cinematography, a superb story anchored in the real world and rich emotional content. And mostly the last. Skyfall works because it has three-dimensional characters operating in a blockbuster landscape. You get all the thrills and action, but also become invested in the characters and what happens to them. A crucial part of all that comes down to Daniel Craig's skill as an actor. Bond's tenure as the longest-running film franchise ever currently owes a lot to Craig's resurrection of the series in Casino Royale, when he introduced a Bond to believe in -- slightly more ruthless, maybe, but capable, skilled, human.
Under Sam Mendes direction, all the elements come together perfectly in Skyfall.
This is a James Bond movie for anyone who gave up watching James Bond movies 20 years ago. It's the Bond film that might finally sway the hardline Sean Connery fanatics into admiring someone else in the role. (Is that heresy?)
You'll have to see the movie to decide if you think Skyfall is the best Bond movie ever, but here's the best part -- whether you agree or disagree, it's still a stupendous two hours at the movies.