Daniel Craig has transformed Bond more than any Bond to date. For the most part, he’s entirely eschewed Bond’s camp, aristocratic leanings and moved more in the direction of a traditional action hero, with a bit of Bourne-like opacity thrown in for good measure. There was always something delightfully improbable about previous Bonds being modern action heroes, or about Bond’s good old-fashioned field action coming up against Q’s technological wizardry – you sensed his canny know-how survived despite all the gadgets that were thrust at him, rather than because of them. In many ways, Skyfall summarises everything about Craig’s Bond, and his world, that makes this untenable – it’s the first Bond film to feature a digital nemesis (a hacker modelled on Julian Assange), as well as the first Bond film in which Q seems genuinely disinterested in Bond, offering him a couple of comically perfunctory devices before getting back to monitoring the M16 firewall; their job descriptions have irreversibly changed, and the film struggles to change with them. For the first two thirds, Mendes opts for futurism, as Bond pursues Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva through a cyberspatial China straight out of William Gibson, moving almost imperceptibly from action hero to stealth, subsumed into great walls of neon and digital glitch, swathes of semi-sentient space-time. Yet the film collapses under the weight of all that futurity into a nostalgic third act, as Bond returns to his family home of Skyfall, and the reassuring spatio-temporal co-ordinates of the earlier films, in an effort to renew what it means to be a field agent, if only by literalising it. That abrupt movement from an unimaginable future to a calcified past – an abrupt shift in palette and cinematography as much as anything else – gives the film an extraordinary, reflexive impotence, reminding us that Craig is also the most vulnerable Bond to date; for all he’s jettisoned their aristocratic affectations, he has to work much harder to stay in the present than his forbears. For that very reason, though, his performance is more relaxed and comic than in his previous two films – he at home in Skyfall’s tensile discomfort, which means that his humourlessness is less grating, less self-serious than in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, which feel warmer, more charismatic, in retrospect. From that retrospective perspective, then, it’s something of a paradox – like Never Say Never Again, it sets out to crystallise our love for a particular Bond by placing him in a world in which he can no longer properly exist.