Review: Spectre - Is the new Bond movie any good?
Daniel Craig won't be drawn on whether he'll reprise the role of James Bond - but director Sam Mendes has made it clear that this is his 007 swansong and he bows out with a bang, lots and lots of bangs.
Skyfall made over $1bn - so they had the means to top it. Spectre is the most expensive Bond movie ever and you can see where the money went - locations, gadgets, wardrobe, helicopters and pyrotechnics. The results are spectacular if a tiny bit hollow.
It's a case of starting as you mean to continue with a pre-credit sequence shot during the Day of the Dead fiesta in Mexico City. It is fantastic, virtually dialogue-free, wonderfully choreographed action. The title sequence to the underwhelming theme song is lovely, complete with prerequisite nudie dancing woman - and then the film proper begins. They're keen reviews don't spoil the plot, so suffice to say that something emerges from the past to prompt Bond to go rogue.
In Mexico, he's pursuing a man named Sciarra and the number he pulls in attempting to capture him does not endear him to his boss M (Ralph Fiennes). It's an especially difficult time for MI6 who, under new commander Max Denbigh (Irish actor Andrew Scott), are accused of being an irrelevant, outmoded expense, particularly unnecessary with the new Nine Eyes world surveillance programme.
Bond is grounded and Q implants a device that will keep tabs on all 007 movements. But lads, this is Bond.
The aim was to be iconic - and Spectre fulfils this aim admirably. The plot connection to the past and references to previous films in the franchise set the tone. The costumes are great, Craig rocks his skinny designer suits and pitches up perfectly attired for every occasion with, bar one small bag once, nary the hint of luggage.
Much has been made of 51-year-old Monica Bellucci being a (perish the name) Bond Girl. It's a bit of a daft fuss, the role is really just a cameo in which Bellucci plays a slightly resigned sideshow, the real Bond Girl here is Dr Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) who is 30.
The one part of the iconic structure that falls down is the villain. The nemesis in Spectre is Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) and as a villain he is rather disappointing. He really isn't given a lot to work with. And while Spectre works on lots of levels, it is weak around plot and character development.
Spectre is turbo Bond and fulfils the iconic brief more than adequately. The set pieces are really great, although the car chase along the Tiber is a bit soft. Craig and Seydoux lack chemistry but overall this is two and half hours of full on Bond - ridiculous, spectacular, light-hearted and exactly what big screens are for.
Opens tomorrow, Cert 12A (two gory scenes, young kids won't understand the plot)
4/5 - for Bondness