(out of 5)
Fifty years of saving the world can really take their toll on a man, particularly when he has sustained so many injuries and, to deal with them, has racked up a major substance abuse problem. This is the state we find the world’s greatest super agent in when this film’s pre-credits sequence, set in Turkey, has him get shot and go missing while trying to recover a super important data file. James Bond returns, however, when M (Judi Dench) finds herself in danger of being discredited: her agents are being killed, their identities are being leaked, no one has a clue who is doing it and her superiors are requesting that she step aside in favour of a successor. Our hero steps in and travels to Shanghai to find the identity of a former MI6 agent who is causing all this mayhem, before returning home to England’s capital where the threat of major terror must be averted. This exquisitely perfect adventure in the cinema’s longest-running franchise is the best Bond film since From Russia With Love, a sleek, intelligent and perfectly executed thriller featuring every necessary element for a great night at the movies: a fetching hero, an impressive villain, excellent action sequences with a cohesive and diverting story to back it up. Add to the mix a richer part for Dench than has been given before, a terrific new Q (the wonderful Ben Whishaw), one of the most stunning Bond girls ever seen (Bérénice Marlohe) and a rip-roaring closing sequence at a lonely Scottish estate and you have the sexy sleuth at his finest form. Daniel Craig continues to be a superb choice for the lead, reminiscent of Sean Connery’s combination of vibrant animal aggression and high lifestyle indulgence, with his darker and more serious attitude to the role perfectly suited to the grittier style of the series’ reboot.
Directed by Sam Mendes
Cinematography by Roger Deakins
Music by Thomas Newman
Production Design by Dennis Gassner
Costume Design by Jany Temime
Film Editing by Stuart Baird