James Bond is at his best in 'Skyfall'

Skyfall is simply the best Bond film ever, certainly my favorite.

Directed by Sam Mendes, this is the movie where James Bond finally grows up. He's still as much the lovable rogue as ever, but he finally moves past that cheeky British public schoolboy persona that has carried him for 50 years in 22 other movies. Skyfall has the gunplay, verbal foreplay and bedroom action you have come to expect, and an old favorite from the 1960s even shows up looking cooler than ever. But when Bond takes a fall, literally, it leaves him shaken and, finally, stirred — and not exactly the man he was.

Skyfall begins with the superspy in hot pursuit of a villain through the streets and over the red-tiled rooftops of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, on a motorcycle no less. It is a marvelously breathtaking choreographed chase. Eventually, the trail leads to the most psychologically twisted of Bond villains, Raoul Silva, played by Oscar winner Javier Bardem. With his blond hair and slightly effeminate manner, Silva is introduced delivering a creepy monologue about "rats." As the camera moves ever closer — cinematographer Roger Deakins' Oscar-nominated work is brilliant — Silva is in your face, unhinged and unsettling.

After years and years of silly plots, this Bond film tries to bring home some real issues with life and death consequences.

After a terrorist attack, we even see 007's mysterious boss, M — played for the seventh time by the great Judi Dench — sadly surveying a room full of coffins draped in Union Jacks. When has a Bond film ever taken the time to mourn anyone?

There are also a number of new additions to the cast. Ralph Fiennes provides weight as the buttoned-down Gareth Mallory, M's new superior in Parliament. Ben Whishaw brings a slightly mischievous quality to the role of Q, and Bond is partnered at the film's beginning with a woman, Eve (the always lively Naomie Harris).

Give credit to Mendes for reinvigorating the franchise. Even Adele's lush theme song, also nominated for an Oscar, is one of the best in the series.

Skyfall retails for $29.98 or $39.99 Blu-ray.


These DVDs also were released this week (when two prices are listed, the second is for Blu-ray):

New films: The Perks of Being a Wallflower ($19.98, $24.99); The Sessions ($22.98, $29.99); The Man With the Iron Fists ($29.98, $34.98); Robot & Frank ($30.99); Bully ($24.98, $29.99); Silent Hill: Revelation ($29.98, $34.98); Thieves ($24.98, $29.98); Dangerous Liaisons (2012) ($24.98, $29.98).

Television: Weeds: Season Eight ($39.98 DVD or Blu-ray); Nurse Jackie: Season Four ($39.98 DVD or Blu-ray); Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season ($39.98); Bonanza: The Official Complete Fifth Season ($58.98); Matlock: The Eighth Season ($49.99); Family Matters: The Complete Third Season ($29.98); The Hardy Boys: Season Three ($24.97); Doctor Who: The Reign of Terror ($24.98); Attenborough's Life Stories ($24.98, $29.98).