Manhola Dargis in The New York Times.
Instead he honors the contract that the Bond series made with its fans long ago and delivers the customary chases, pretty women and silky villainy along with the little and big bangs. Whether Mr. Mendes is deploying an explosion or a delectable detail, he retains a crucially human scale and intimacy, largely by foregrounding the performers. To that end, while “Skyfall” takes off with shock-and-awe blockbuster dazzle, it’s opulent rather than outlandish and insistently, progressively low-key, despite an Orientalist fantasy with dragons and dragon ladies. As Bond sprints from peril to pleasure, Mr. Craig and the other players — including an exceptional, wittily venal Javier Bardem, a sleek Ralph Fiennes and a likable Ben Whishaw — turn out to be the most spectacular of Mr. Mendes’s special effects.