Martin Campbell's Casino Royale took audiences back to when James Bond had just acquired his double-0 status, with Daniel Craig as a less refined and more vulnerable iteration of the character. The followup Quantum of Solace progressed the story in a logical way, with a vengeful 007 going after a shadowy organization threatening global stability. However, due in no small part to the 2007-2008 WGA strike, Quantum's attempt to re-imagine Bond with a post-9/11 mentality went over with mixed success, at best.
This year we have the 23rd installment, Skyfall, and Bond's four-year absence - coupled with excellent marketing - has fans of all shades excited to see 007 back in action. Columbia/MGM is releasing the film in IMAX theaters around the U.S. a day early in order to take advantage of the anticipation - not to mention, higher ticket prices - and has unveiled several new images meant to keep the hype drum beating loud and clear.
Skyfall abandons the Quantum thread from its predecessors; instead, it picks up with Craig's Bond during a hazardous work incident teased throughout the film's trailers (involving 007 taking a painful plunge from a moving train). The event, it seems, knocks the rough-and-tumble secret agent for a loop, forcing him to evolve into a more sophisticated government-employed assassin, whose suave manner serves as emotional armor - complimenting the gadgets provided by a young 'Q' (Ben Whishaw) and assistance from field agent Eve (Naomie Harris).
Bond, it seems, isn't alone in his need to reckon with the past, as his boss 'M' (Judi Dench) is threatened by an old 'mistake' - in the form of the creepy-blonde Silva (Javier Bardem) - whose manages to acquire vital information that puts the entire MI6 organization at risk. That sets 007 on a crash-course with the mysterious criminal mastermind, as well as the sultry Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) who warns Bond that Silva is unlike any foe he's faced to date.
Check out those players in the image gallery below (via James Bond Brasil):
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Skyfall director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) appears to have seamlessly melded the fabulous escapism that defined old-school Bond films with the greater socio-political awareness present in Craig's previous outings. We get a taste of that in these new photos, with screenshots from stylishly-staged set pieces in Shanghai and the London tube, as well as sequences with more of the grit associated with the action in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. If this is what we can expect from the next couple Bond movies with Craig, then the future's looking bright.
The cast of Skyfall is rounded out by such respectable stars as Helen McCrory, Albert Finney, and Ralph Fiennes, the latter of which could, indeed, be taking over the 'M' mantle from Dench - who, sadly, might be forced into retirement soon due to her fading eyesight (despite her wishes to continue acting for as long as possible). If Skyfall does end up marking the end of the Dench era, though, at least it appears that her reign will conclude on a high note.
Look for Skyfall to open in regular theaters around the U.S. on November 9th, a day after it hits IMAX screens. Will you be paying more to see the film a day early - or will you wait until it's available for viewing in the normal format?