Truly a different type of Bond film. On the one hand we have the exciting set-pieces and absolutely outlandish traits that define classic Bond (complete with the villain having his own desolate island for a secret layer), and on the other we have a brooding, melancholy humanity to the character (as well as the much-expanded role of M) that definitely adds a level of sophistication to a 50 year old series. Not giving anything away, but I feel that the quiet little scenes in the Scottish countryside between Bond and M are a perfect example of what makes this entry so distinct. Thanks in large part to screenwriter John Logan and director Sam Mendes, this is as close to a character piece that we're ever gonna get from Bond - and what makes it actually work is the fact that the film is so fully aware of the fact that it is after all a Bond film, and the juggling act that the film pulls between the "old" classic Bond cheese and the "new" darker, grittier, and more contemplative approach truly makes for a blockbuster in the same tradition as The Dark Knight.
And also, I can't go without mentioning Roger Deakins' absolutely stunning cinematography. This is without a doubt one of the most visually breathtaking films of the year and if the man were to win his long overdue Oscar for this film I would not be surprised.