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‘Skyfall’ is better than best Bond flick ever

It's no big news that "Skyfall" is making lots of money. It's also not surprising that it's being called the best Bond film so far. After all, it was directed by Sam Mendes, who won a 2000 Best Director Oscar for "American Beauty." It was shot by Roger Deakins, an eight-time Oscar nominee. Art direction designed by Dennis Gassner, who won an Oscar in 1992 for "Bugsy." And so on.

But this is a Bond film, which automatically puts it in a category: spy flick with lots of eye candy. In the past, that candy has been mostly women (from Ursula Andress to Halle Berry). In recent years, that candy has gradually grown to include men (from Pierce Brosnan to a shirtless Daniel Craig).

Now, however, the standard Bond format has been transformed. Less cheese, more actual drama. Less comedy, more tersely delivered laugh lines. Less farcical action, more "Bourne"-style physicality by Craig.

Oh, the ridiculousness is still there. In "Skyfall," Javier Bardem plays a super-villain who can bust into any computer anywhere, including that of England's spy headquarters MI6. If there's one joke about Bond being over the hill, you'll find a dozen of them. And even an over-the-hill Bond can survive a 100-foot fall from a speeding train - after being shot - to fight another day.

But with an opening sequence that last some 20 minutes, and Craig's intensity glowing throughout, "Skyfall" is indeed the best Bond film ever. And maybe even better than that.