Everyone's favourite super-spy is back with another instalment and, this time, he's taking on the head of the infamous, shady organisation SPECTRE.
Directed by Skyfall maestro Sam Mendes, SPECTRE opens big and in terms of pre-titles credit scenes it doesn't disappoint. The beautifully shot sequence includes an über-long tracking shot which opens at the heart of the smoky Mexican Day Of The Dead street celebrations and ends on a rooftop with Daniel Craig's suited 007 quietly staking out a bad guy through a sniper lens. Everything you want from a Bond film is in that sequence: a beautiful woman, face-punching, buildings crumbling, a tongue-in-cheek lol moment and a smooth lead up to an elaborate credits sequence. Speaking of which, the latter looks slick but is perhaps a little too busy and distracted for its own good. Plus Sam Smith really should have let someone with more oomph sing "Writing's On The Wall" because as it stands it makes that forgettable Quantum Of Solace effort sound more badass than "Live And Let Die".
Plot-wise, SPECTRE attempts to link every Craig-starrer into one giant mega-story that totally makes sense. Christoph Waltz's character, we're told, being the source of all Bond's woes. Well... the two main woes he experienced in 4 movies anyway. It's certainly an ambitious endeavour and the build-up to Waltz is long and inspired, much like how Dr. No was talked about but not seen until near the end of the film in the very first 007 outing. While that crescendo works really well, what comes after sort of falls a little flat. Bond's relationship with Léa Seydoux's love-interest is never all that convincing or interesting, henchman Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) feels a bit tacked-on and our main baddie's plans come off as clumsy at best. His motivations and the way in which he goes about toying with Bond just either don't make much sense or are frankly half-assed. In a strange way, Christoph Waltz, who is fantastic in this movie I should mention, is both this movie's best asset and biggest problem.
Otherwise the action scenes are fun, the likes of Q (Ben Whishaw), M (Ralph Fiennes) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are given mercifully useful things to do, the new car looks great, the locations are stunning and Craig does a good job once again as the iconic spy. Had SPECTRE been more focused with its script tweaked for logic in key places it could have probably outdone Skyfall but as it stands, the film's faults are too distracting to make this a completely successful effort. You'll find yourself wishing that some big scenes were better than they were and the film's third act will no doubt leave you wanting not only more but more even.
While SPECTRE certainly has its glorious moments (the pre-credits, the car chase, the plane scene, Waltz's sinister introduction) it remains one of the weaker Bond films of recent years. It's flashier and more ambitious than Quantum Of Solace but also clumsier.
007 fans should still have a ball, though.
I mean... it's a James Bond movie!
Even lesser Bond is still kinda kickass, we all know this.