Much as Connery had to wait until his third Bond, Goldfinger, for the Broccolis to nail the formula, it is Craig’s third outing, and his first with Bond newbie director Sam Mendes, that pulls all the pieces together.

Ditching the Quantum story arc from the previous two films, thankfully, it’s a story in its own right, and a more personal, emotional one, with a beleaguered Bond struggling with age and to protect MI6 from an assailant wreaking chaos over the intelligence service.

Mendes, above all, brings an emotional honesty to the film; Bond’s journey touches on his heritage, emotional issues, and paints 007 as a real human being.

Craig (the “bland character actor” said the naysayers when his casting was announced in 2005) shades Bond with regret, a sense of humour and fear, even, bringing a sense of danger and jeopardy that had been previously lacking.

While the Bond Babes (Naomie Harris’ agent and Berenice Marlohe’s femme fatale) are given little screentime, Javier Bardem’s villain Raoul Silva is a freakish, violent force of nature and an adversary thoroughly deserving the fear and anarchy he births.

It is, fittingly, a most British of Bonds – much of the story’s set in or around London – and Mendes delivers the action in a pulsating bike-car-train opening sequence and thrilling London Underground chase especially.

It’s current, yet aware of the series’ past – it is, essentially, the Bond Craig and we have been waiting for.

%TNT Magazine% stars 4

Good for: Seeing the Bond crew nail it third time round – 007 is back!

Starring: Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem | 12A | 142mins