KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It's been 50 years since Sean Connery ordered a vodka martini and lit up the screen as James Bond.
But this year, Daniel Craig has solidified his status as the best Bond character in franchise history.
Skyfall is the epitome of Bond. It's everything you'd expect from Oscar winning director Sam Mendes ( American Beauty).
Mendes and Craig have finally transformed the James Bond character into a human being -- where Bond reflects feelings of protectiveness and seeks retribution against those who threaten England.
Mendes and Craig have finally elevated this International Man of Mystery from borderline caricature to a living, breathing character complete with human foibles and vulnerability.
This Bond gets hurt -- both physically and emotionally -- as his back story is revealed.
The audience will finally be given a glimpse of where Bond came from and how he was raised. Skyfall also dives deep into the relationship between Bond and his mother figure, M (Judi Dench).
But the real highlight of Skyfall is Daniel Craig. His performance is beyond compare and downright remarkable.
Bond is back to his smooth womanizing ways, but he also remains the hero everyone has always loved pre- Die Another Day. (Not even Madonna's theme song could save that flop.)
In 2012, we have a visionary director, an exceptional Bond and a clear Oscar front-runner for Best Original Song by Adele. Not to mention Oscar winner Javier Bardem as the villain, Silva, who may be the most complex bad guy we've seen in Bond history.
What could be more enticing?
With it's unprecedented depth, Skyfall also has many similarities with The Dark Knight, a film that's become a classic among hero/villain stories. There are several scenes throughout this Bond tale deeply reminiscent of the Batman flick, including the story of Bond's childhood and the people who supported him growing up.
Skyfall is breathtaking, impressive and monumental. It's not only the best James Bond film yet, but it's also the best action film of the year.
FINAL GRADE: A
Skyfall is rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking.
Runtime: 2 hours and 23 minutes.