Bond's takedown of Silva's men after Silva kills Severine.
Bond casually kicking a dead henchman's weapon up into his hand during the siege with an air of complete annoyance on his face - you can just tell he's thinking "Why won't these morons just give up and die already?"
What makes it all the more awesome? Said Scotsman is just a groundskeeper and game hunter for Bond's family. Yet he manages to take on Mooks armed with the latest weapons and tactics with nothing more than his old hunting shotgun and survive!
Particularly beautiful as it comes after Bond has endured many jibes about his age, "old-fashioned" methods and supposed obsolescence. The victory with the radio shows that, as a character comments later in the movie, "sometimes the old ways are the best".
Silva's eventual victory, in spite of costing his life, echoes the 'old ways being the best' in that when years of planning with computer virus, youtube leaks and hacking failed, sending a shitload of guys with guns in actually worked. Indeed, The Bad Guy Wins. Skyfall is a Bond film of many firsts.
Bond's entrance on the train in the opening chase scene.He tears a hole in the roof of a carriage with a digger, LEAPS THROUGH THE HOLE WHILE THE TRAIN'S STILL IN MOTION...and casually stops to readjust his cufflinks. Win.
Even better is the fact that wasn't CGI, nor was it a stuntman. That was really Daniel Craig and that was a real train!
And it wasn't even scripted! (the cufflink adjustment, that is)
Bond is on the run with M in her company Jaguar. They pull up outside a nondescript garage in the middle of the night. M wonders what they're doing, "Changing vehicles" replies Bond pulling open the garage door. The lights go on, a pristine and very familiar Aston Martin gleams, a slow version of the Bond theme kicks in and all is right with the world.
The ejector seat is teased but when Silva's goons walk past the Aston we cut to Bond hiding in the front seat, ready to unleash one of the old girl's other gadgets.
Bond just rode a motorcycle off a bridge. No, wait, he didn't. Any pissant action hero can ride a motorcycle off a bridge. Bond just rode a motorcycle into the bridge's balustrade, so that it flipped and sent him flying through the air. To land on. A moving. Train. Holy balls, did that just happen? Why do cinemas not have rewind buttons?
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, you can see that the motorcycle flips a few times to finally land on its tires after the jump. Power parking to the absolute max.
Bond takes the tube... jumping from the platform to catch the back of the departing train.
When they get off the train, Bond chases Silva back towards the Embankment station. When Silva encounters the escalators, he slides down the metal separator between them. Bond does the same. Silva faceplants when he lands...but Bond lands on his feet, and keeps running without stumbling.
Silva drops a train on Bond. Okay, he missed, but still. He dropped a train on the guy.
The whole climax in the Bond manor, with Bond, M, and Kincade taking on Silva's goons, and Bond creating a bomb that hits one of their helicopters as it crashes into the manor. It's a bit bittersweet, but that was one pretty sweet explosion.
M's response to the government minister who's been going on and on about how MI6 is irrelevant is a thing of beauty.
When Silva crashes the committee meeting, with every intention of killing M, Gareth Mallory shows us exactly what he's worth. The moment Silva marches in and raises his pistol, Mallory, with no hesitation, jumps over the committee table, and gets to M just in time to take a bullet for her. After another guard in the side doorway is shot dead by Silva, Mallory breaks cover, under fire from one of Silva's henchmen, grabs the guard's Glock 17, and manages to single-handedly gun down his opponent. Retired Badass indeed.
Bond gets a moment when he shoots the two fire extinguishers to give him, Mallory and Eve a smokescreen.
That little wink Bond throws Mallory right before shooting the extinguishers, too.
Silva also deserves a mention: taking on three guns singlehandedly with just a Glock 17, and, in the end, making a tactical retreat without a scratch on himself, though the two henchmen are not so lucky.
M's speech, intercut with scenes of Silva violently making his way across London, is extremely effective.
Bond vs. Patrice in Shanghai. A master class in cinematography and lighting, the entire fight is nothing but two silhouettes against a giant flatscreen background, plus the occasional muzzle flash as someone tries to use a gun, and yet every instant is fully legible to the eye. Particularly impressive as it was done in one shot.
Silva's very first scene in the chemical plant as he gives a long monologue about a childhood incident with rats and comparing it to the situation with him, Bond, and M while walking from the far side of the corridor. All done, again, in one shot.
For Bond fans, the introduction of Q and Moneypenny, in addition to Judi Dench passing the torch of M to Ralph Fiennes after a splendid 17-year run, re-introducing tradition into the current Craig-era films.
The opening scenes and credits let the viewer know that shit is getting serious in the best way possible.
M reading part of Tennyson's "Ulysses" after being Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee. It's just a perfect rebuttal to accusations that MI6 and people like Bond are old-fashioned and obsolete:
M: Just one more thing to say. My late husband was a great lover of poetry. And um...I suppose some of it sunk in, despite my best intentions. And here today I remember this. I think, from Tennyson:
[As she says the last word, Silva and his men walk in, disguised as police officers. They raise their pistols and shoot the guards, and a shootout ensues]
The last lines, especially Bond calling Mallory "M." You think The Bad Guy Wins? I think 007 may disagree.
Adele's performance of the theme song, shortly after recovering from a strained throat that left her unable to speak for months.
Another one for M. During Silva's interrogation back at MI6 he demands that M say his real name. M's response?
M: Your name is on the memorial wall of the very building you attacked. I will have it struck off. Soon, your past will be as non-existent as your future.
M's parting words to Mallory upon leaving their first meeting.
M: To hell with dignity. I'll leave when the job is done.
The very end, with Bond being given his next assignment by the new M, reassures the audience that the adventures will continue. It's followed by the classic Bond Gunbarrel Sequence, followed by a large gunbarrel icon with "50 Years" in the middle. Underneath it, the iconic words seen after every Bond film: James Bond Will Return.
Skyfall is the first (and to this day, only) Bond film to break a billion dollar at the worldwide box office (unadjusted).
The film's critical acclaim undeniably added to its box office glory, smashing much doomsaying that was caused by the divisiveness of Quantum of Solace and the long production gap (4 years). 2012 was the 50th anniversary of the movie franchise (Dr. No came out in 1962), and Skyfall didn't disappoint on such an important milestone.
The title song by Adele wound up being the very first James Bond theme to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Its popularity ever since is on par with Shirley Bassey's medleys.
The 2012 Olympic Games brought a lot of worldwide attention to London and britishness in general, and greatly helped promoting the film (also resonating with M's speech and London's prominence in the film). James Bond was part of said celebration of britishness, of course. Danny Boyle directed a short film for the occasion, in which Bond (Daniel Craig) escorted none other than Queen Elizabeth II herself to the games' opening ceremony. Theynote well, their stunt doubles even jumped from a helicopter right into the Olympic Stadium with Union Jack parachutes remniniscent of The Spy Who Loved Me's opening.