Cert : 12

Runtime: 150 mins

Director: Sam Mendes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Naomi Harris, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear.

Rating: ***

Having enjoyed all of the Bond movies featuring Daniel Craig, I was really looking forward to seeing this as soon as it was released.  Unfortunately despite all of the hype I was left quite disappointed.

If you can recall most of the Bond movies even as far back as Sean Connery and Roger Moore then this latest and final offering from Director Sam Mendes feels like a mash-up of the best moments and ingredients that have made the franchise so strong.

Some of the spectacular action scenes we have seen before, for example, dramatic hand to hand combat on a luxury train has previously been a feature of From Russia with Love, Live and Let and Die and The Spy Who Loved Me and whilst Daniel Craig can bring a level brutality to it that we may have not seen before, in essence it feels in places like a re-working of all the finest Bond moments and traditions.

However, this movie does deliver a breath taking array of fabulous action sequences. The opening sequence in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead parade is fantastic and the initial tracking shot that flows along a bustling street, into a hotel lobby and beyond is totally captivating.  As is Bond’s subversive appearance at the committee meeting of Spectre, an organisation planning world control, which is delivered with just the right amount of threat and tension and laced with one very nasty moment that must have pushed the boundary on the 12 certificate that this film carries. The torture scene later on in the film is also well delivered and will probably have most viewers cringing in their seats as small drills penetrate different parts of Bonds head.

Daniel Craig is also on top form. Maybe not quite carying the undertone of threat and menace as when he first hit the screen as Bond, but then he is now a little older and clearly not fazed by anything that either his own superiors or any villain can throw at him. His relationship with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green in Casino Royale, 2006) will always be a challenge to follow and the brief appearance of Monica Bellucci falls sadly flat, but the main Bond girl this time Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux) suggests a stronger chemistry which works well.

The villains are not quite up to the usual standard. Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) features to an almost limited extent in the first part of the film, including a ridiculous moment where he burst through the windscreen of a car and is left for dead by Bond, only to appear a few scenes later without a mark on him. Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), the mastermind behind SPECTRE somehow manages to remain off screen for the first 90 minutes and whilst Waltz is always worth watching, his slightly camp evil mastermind does not carry the same sense of uncontrollable evil that could potentially win the day.

All Bond films have fanciful plots, unfortunately this one is just too ridiculous and feeble which is a major shortcoming. There is also the sense that the world is not really in that much danger and that Bond is in the twilight of his career as he pops up in various countries in short order, but not with any real sense of urgency or a race against time.

There also seem to be far too many unexplained moments - where have all the passengers and staff disappeared to during the train fight? Where does Bond suddenly find a plane from on the top of a mountain to give chase to Hinx and his team?  Why is there a speedboat in the remains of the old secret service building which was bombed out in Skyfall that has both a key in the ignition and works perfectly after all of the time that has elapsed,? There are many others, some just continuity errors. Of course it’s a Bond movie, but these anomalies begin to become irritating as the film takes on the feel of an agreed number of brilliant set pieces loosely linked together.

Will Daniel Craig reappear as Bond? Sam Mendes will not be doing anymore and one wonders if he cannot see where he can take the movies from here.  Having thrown in just about every Bond cliché into Spectre, it feels like this combination has run its course.

Sadly and maybe not in line with most critical opinion, this is not a film worth hurrying to see.

Written by Howard Groves.

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