Both the film and a buffed-up Daniel Craig - playing the tough, slightly ageing British spy for the third time - hit the ground running, with Bond in an exhilarating chase in Turkey, using cars, motorbikes and a train, to catch a ruthless killer with a stolen list of British agents.
Yet time may have finally caught up with Bond when he is lost - presumed dead - along with the vital list just when Britain's secret service is under attack from bombers and cyber hackers.
Bond returns looking tired, out of shape and a feeble shot. Yet his steely, troubled boss, M (played expertly by Judi Dench), sends him back into the fray, to Shanghai and Macau, to hunt down the murderous, mystery mastermind behind the attacks.
The fine Spanish actor Javier Bardem provides a memorably menacing, scene-stealing Bond villain for a change.
Director Sam Mendes cleverly blends his sumptuous-looking, fight-to-the-death action with touches of warmth and humour. Fittingly, he also provides echoes of past 007 films - and time to catch our breath - before an explosive finale that packs a genuinely emotional punch.
YP Rating: 4/5