If Craig decides to bow out, this latest Bond film is a near-perfect swansong

Spectre has already smashed British box office records by making £40m in its first week and is expected to top the UK’s list of highest grossing films of all time, writes Natalie Stendall.

While it struggles to sustain the energy and imagination of its opening and closing sequences throughout, Spectre is a gratifying addition to the Bond catalogue.

Director Sam Mendes returns to the franchise, demonstrating the same flair for atmospheric, high-action set pieces that dominated Skyfall.

Spectre’s impressive opening sequence takes place during a crowded Mexican parade, packing in a spectacular explosion, intricately choreographed hand-to-hand combat and a jaw-dropping helicopter stunt.

The unveiling of the long-awaited Aston Martin DB10 is similarly momentous, combining an exhilarating car chase through Rome and the Vatican with a smattering of amusing gags.

It’s this kind of understated wit fused with poker-face action that defines Daniel Craig’s psychologically damaged 007 and there’s been a great deal of speculation about whether this will be the actor’s last outing in the role. Despite recent reports that Craig is contracted for one more movie, Spectre works as a neat send off for his Bond whose emotional scars seem largely healed.

In re-introducing Blofeld (a seething, unnerving Christoph Waltz who pays due homage to the original character), Spectre manages to re-visit characters from Craig’s earlier Bond outings providing a satisfying degree of closure.

It’s difficult to imagine a better adieu to Craig’s 007: Spectre providing a near perfect swansong. Craig might be best advised to bow out on a high.