Four years after the underwritten and underwhelming ‘Quantum of Solace’ but just in time for the fifty-year celebration since ‘Dr No’, Bond returns for another mission. Yet despite the half-century anniversary this latest outing for OO7 initially feels more elegiac than celebratory with Bond (Craig) missing in action, presumed dead and Judi Dench’s M threatened with compulsory retirement by new broom-wielding govt man Mallory (Fiennes). When a figure from M’s past turns up to torment her via acts of terrorism, a not quite so ready for duty Bond returns to the fray. Of the three Craig Bonds this one feels the most trad with brassy title sequence, Bond actually having sex with women, and his trademark gadgets making a return, courtesy of new quartermaster Q (Whishaw) now a spotty, nerdy but wily computer hack. Having a homegrown director Mendes imbues the film with a more English feel, replete with well-utilised choice London setting and even Tennyson quotes, and although very much an actors’ director he also proves reassuringly adept at the action sequences, the ten minutes introductory scene involving motorbikes, trains and a ruddy big digger rivals the prologue to ‘Casino Royale’ for bone-crunching thrills. The film isn’t perfect: it’s a little dull in the middle and narrative cogs can be heard creaking as Bond is despatched to some exotic locale for some reason or other. Craig is excellent as Bond however bringing the requisite mix of suave and steeliness (and he looks really hard), Bardem’s outrageously camp baddie Silva is certainly, er, memorable, and of the latest crop of ‘Bond girls’ (dread phrase) Harris’s fellow agent Eve is cocky, capable and just the right side of smug, while French actress Bérénice Marlohe as the exotic and enigmatic Sévérine, does some good work with a rather slight part. The undoubted highlight is Roger Deakins’ photography, with his beautiful rendering of the neon-lit environs of Shanghai and the stygian depths of the London Undergroud, ensuring this is the best-looking Bond to date. The Scotland-set climax is set to be the most contentious aspect, the rather rote and unnecessary backstory provided for Bond proving maybe a little Too Much Information for the hardcore fans. Nevertheless the series feels back on track after the major hiccup of Quantum and should leave viewers hungry for Craig’s next outing.