Much of the criticism seems to be aimed at the non-formulaic design of "Skyfall." For me, that makes the film interesting and intriguing. Bond doesn't rely on the gadgets, this time, which was both surprising and refreshing. Those had reached the pinnacle of ludicrousness with the "stealth Audi." Eventually, everything had become about the cars--product placement gone wild--far more than pens with a 4-minute oxygen supply. This time, his own skills and ingenuity became the sink-or-swim factor. Rather than some infallible machine, he's more vulnerable. He stumbles but recovers when, and in the ways, he must. Marvelous. He then becomes a different, multi-dimensional Bond, further enhanced by the personal aspects of his experiences. Some insight into what makes him tick, but not too much.
Can you imagine Connery revisiting his childhood home to make his stand, interacting with his old caretaker? He barely interacted with anyone in any meaningful way. That was fine for the 60s but we expect a little more depth--I would hope.
I was thrilled that some kind of fuller backstory and personality were attempted. It's nigh impossible to imagine any of Craig's predecessors responding to anything beyond a two-dimensional, somewhat cartoonish way. I enjoyed those, yes (esp. "Thunderball," my Connery favorite), but they weren't a full meal. "Skyfall" wasn't merely a spy story, though, of course, those aspects are the initial draw. It was a bigger story and I was gratified to see the effort to make Bond more than the predictable character he had become.
Daniel Craig is truer to Fleming than a number of his predecessors and more compelling. In his movies, I haven't known, by rote, the parts of the script that were imminent and inevitable. I have all the movies, have read all the books, and Craig is tough and gritty enough to inherit the name. Yes, Connery was ruthless, as well, though I atually care about Craig's character and I never liked Connery's Bond as a person, largely because he never seemed to be one. I realize he wasn't in the business of being liked, but Craig shows the capacity for more and Sean never did.
I'm not suggesting a dilute, emo Bond, but at least one that can show humanity. His response to the death of M. was hard-wrung, but seemed sincere and appropriate. I think Craig does an outstanding job. He brings those other perspectives to the character without losing the unstoppable determination and, as well, doesn't rely on toys or empty encounters for fillers. Especially among the earlier movies, more sparing use of Bond's sexual distractions might have been effective. As it was, much of it simply declined into silliness--cutesy endings to what were supposed to be high-energy films of intrigue. I mean, Marines popping out of the foliage? And the Leiter character depicted as a good ol' boy? Lack of imaginative writing, much? I know the movies began as escapist fare in exotic locales, but I think they have evolved to include a bit more.
This movie leaves tantalizing questions unanswered, though it did support some personal long-held conclusions. These rendered it both satisfying and unsatisfying but only insofar as I'm one who likes answers and I know it's unlikely any will be provided.
Perhaps that is, in the end, yet another skillful twist to the tale.