Who’s in it: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes
What it’s about: When a mysterious villain (Bardem) with a vendetta against M (Dench) declares war on MI6, James Bond (Craig) remains loyal to his boss even as British politicians led by Fiennes call for her resignation.
Verdict: Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) has been a James Bond fan since boyhood, and his love for the character shines through in the series’ 50th anniversary entry. Much of it is brilliant, but like many of Mendes’ films, it is vexingly uneven. Craig remains the rock-solid center in a story that delves deeper into Bond’s psyche than before. With Dench occupying much of this story, Bond has no time for a worthy leading lady, which marks two movies in a row where action has trumped sex. Bardem is a scary villain, but his performance could have used more restraint. At least Q is finally back, now played by waspish Ben Whishaw. Adele’s theme song is the best since Sheena Easton warbled “For Your Eyes Only.” Craig’s third outing as Bond is miles better than “Quantum of Solace,” but it’s no “Casino Royale.”
Rated: PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking
Running time: 2 hours, 23 minutes