It's the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film series, and what a way to celebrate it. The new film, "Skyfall," is one of the best Bond movies ever.
As in most Bond movies, Skyfall starts off with a bang - a spectacular stunt-filled chase that ends up with 007 and a baddie punching it out on top of a moving train going over a high bridge. The scene however takes an unexpected turn when Bond is shot off the train and plunges to his apparent death hundreds of feet below.
Moviegoers know he can't really be dead - heck, the movie is not yet 20 minutes old - but everyone in the film thinks he is, including his boss, M, played once again by the great Judi Dench.
When a bruised and battered Bond suddenly shows up 6 months later.
"Where the hell have you been?" M asks.
"Enjoying death," Bond responds.
"I only have one question: Why not stay dead? There's no shame in saying you've lost a step," says Ray Fiennes, who plays the head of foreign intelligence.
No shame in having lost a step? Oh yes there is - if you're Bond, James Bond. And this Bond has something to prove. Daniel Craig's Bond has lost a step, his physical skills have declined. He's even psychologically suspect. Not only that, his very job description (as a secret agent) is in danger of becoming outmoded.
This is the overriding theme of "Skyfall" - James Bond having to justify his existence, having to not only proclaim the value of his declining abilities but also to defend his old-school ways in a quickly changing world. He has to prove his own ongoing relevance.
He's taunted by his youngers about "the inevitability of time," but in his final confrontation with the master villain, played by Javier Bardem, melancholy gives way to a very rooted determination.
"Skyfall" is a deeply satisfying Bond film, a perfect rejoinder to those of us who may have thought Bond was a relic of times past. Like I said, a great way to celebrate 50 years.