After all the furore and media hype surrounding the return of Bond and one of the most famous organisations in 007 lore – this ends up a tad disappointing.
As general spy thrillers go this is undoubtedly still a solid product – and a cut above its imitators – but after the giant strides Daniel Craig’s Bond made with 2012’s semi-reboot Skyfall, this slightly underwhelms.
A great ‘Day of the Dead’ opening in Mexico City and compelling finale in London bookend somewhat familiar Bond territory in between – as Spectre struggles with pacing issues at times.
This nicely ties in with the ‘Mr White’ (Jesper Christensen) storylines that were prevalent in the first two Daniel Craig Bond movies – and wasn’t touched upon in Skyfall – which unveils evil power-hungry syndicate SPECTRE (which played a major role in early Bond movies and is given a re-birth here) as Bond’s worst nightmare.
The world’s most famous spy then has to go off the ‘grid’ with the help of Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), as M (Ralph Fiennes) battles political forces – led by cocky government-fed MI6 boss Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott) – who are looking to close down the ‘prehistoric’ 007 program in favour of more tech-savvy methods.
But despite a generally engaging and methodical story, Christoph Waltz’s (Django Unchained) highly-publicised turn as the villain, the mysterious leader of SPECTRE doesn’t quite come off as terrifying as it should – arguably not in the same way as Donald Pleasance’s incarnation did in the past – and neither does Dave Bautista’s underused henchman, who is relegated to a formulaic voiceless role, which seems a shame after his enigmatic turn in Guardians of the Galaxy.
But for the most part this still oozes stylish qualities that were prevalent in director Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, and despite one or two lulls is made watchable by a compelling start and finish that makes it worth the entry price for that alone.
Everything else in between is more than passable – and Lea Seydoux puts in a noteworthy Bond Girl performance as disgruntled companion-turned-lover Madeleine Swann – but while this isn’t a Quantum of Solace after Casino Royale step backwards, it does take a minor step in the wrong direction after Skyfall reinvigorated the franchise.
But with another commendable turn from Craig (who reaffirms his status as arguably the best Bond since Sean Connery), this should still be your film of choice over the next couple of weeks – particularly if you’re a Bond fan.
Just be warned though – you may have ex-Spectred a little bit more.
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Gavin Miller [youtube id=”ujmoYyEyDP8″ width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen & Monica Belucci
Running Time: 2 Hrs 28 Mins
Director: Sam Mendes