TIME waits for no man, not even the suave and sharply attired 007.

In the 50 years since Ian Fleming’s debonair secret agent introduced himself to Sylvia Trench at a card table in Dr No, global politics have changed beyond recognition.

The Iron Curtain has fallen, the Cold War has thawed, the People’s Republic Of China has emerged as a superpower and terrorism has shifted into the digital realm, forcing James Bond and his colleagues at MI6 to evolve.

Actors, who have been licensed to kill have brought something new to the party; from Sean Connery’s flirtatious, rugged machismo, to Roger Moore’s innuendo-laden one-liners and Pierce Brosnan’s blend of charm and athleticism.

The latest Bond, Daniel Craig, has rugged physicality in abundance but his one-note interpretation of the spy who is shaken but never stirred remains devoid of personality.

Skyfall will do nothing to dispel those concerns but is undoubtedly the best instalment of Craig’s tenure to date.

Director Sam Mendes sensibly surrounds his leading man with an ensemble of award-winners, who bring gravitas and humour to their iconic roles.

This tour-de-force cast encourages Craig to raise his game but also exposes his weaknesses as an actor, most noticeably in a pivotal scene of heartbreak, which relies on a drenching from a previous fist fight to send droplets of water down his inexpressive face, suggesting the tears of a momentarily broken man.

In the brilliant action scenes, Craig is in his element and Mendes opens with a breathtaking 12-minute pre-credits sequence as Bond and field agent Eve (Harris) are propelled through the winding streets of Istanbul.

The mission ends in apparent tragedy, heralding the sombre chords of Adele’s soaring theme song that harks back to the belting ballads of Shirley Bassey.

With Bond reportedly killed in action, section chief M (Dench) pens an obituary as a political storm rages around her.

News filters through that Bond has survived and M engages her bruised agent to track down menacing cyber terrorist Raoul Silva (Bardem).

Skyfall looks stunning courtesy of cinematographer Roger Deakinsm and the film dazzles during verbal jousts.

Bardem is deliciously camp and menacing, and Dench is wonderful as ever and excels in the field of action.

Director Mendes gets high on nostalgia to the obvious delight of Bond purists. But, he spends slightly too long looking back and not enough looking forward, and consequently stumbles with the lacklustre final showdown more befitting of an episode of The A-Team than the second biggest film franchise in history.