Spectre – ★★★★

 
SYNOPSIS: Whilst in Mexico City, agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) kills a henchman and uncovers a special ring with a cryptic symbol on it. This leads him on a mission across various counties to track down the organisation known as Spectre which is spearheaded by terrorist Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). In the meantime, M (Ralph Fiennes) and co. find themselves having to deal with a shifty MI6 boss who is planning to ditch the 00 section.
 
From the moment that we first saw Daniel Craig’s 007 kick ass in the black and white opening of Casino Royale, fans of the prestige James Bond franchise have been treated to a pulsating group of installments.
 
Sam Mendes’ Spectre continues the edge-of-your-seat spectacle brilliantly with the standard set early on through the mesmerising Mexico City sequence which is just classic Bond right up until Sam Smith belts out his ‘marmite’ rendition of “Writing on the Wall”.
 
The action remains rivetting throughout as we see James involved in thrilling car chases that take place in Rome and Austria as well as a full-blooded fight sequence with Dave Bautista’s ruthless henchman Hinx on board a train.
 
Other Bond conventions to return include the use of gadgets as well as the gun barrel and our hero’s iconic catchphrase “Shaken, not stirred”. More importantly though, the film relies on wisecracking humour and witty one-liners to make it a more light-hearted affair than the previous Craig outings.
 
The plot also produces some neat throwbacks to the other films from the past decade that have crucial meaning to the story which include references to Bond’s former loves Vesper Lynd and M as well as former villains Le Chiffe and Raoul Silva.
 
In what is likely to be his swansong as 007, Daniel Craig does an admirable job in providing his usual wit but continuing to portray James as an uncontrollable man desperate to uncover the secret linked to his past.
 
The three new faces to the franchise; Ralph Fiennes’ M, Ben Whishaw’s Q and Naomie Harris’ Monneypenny all look settled in their roles and add the necessary backup needed for Bond’s mission as well as displaying their own personal traits.
 
Out of the main newcomers, Lea Seydoux provides a solid combination of damsel in distress and kick-ass heroine that has been lacking in Bond girls in recent years whilst looking luminous throughout.
 
Former WWE wrestler Bautista adds menace to his role as Hinx and will probably go down as Bond’s toughest henchman since Jaws while Andrew Scott carries on his excellent acting CV with a dark turn as the suspicious Max Denbigh.
 
The best performance from the newbies though is the brilliant Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser. Whilst he barely features in the film’s first half, his presence is felt greatly in the second half as he mixes his usual charisma with intimidating menace to a character who has a strong link to the Bond story.
 
However one actor who is disappointingly wasted is the ageless Monica Bellucci whose screentime amasses to barely over five minutes. While she remains as sultry as ever, one wishes that she had played a Bond girl back in the Pierce Brosnan days.
 
The film’s lengthy running time of 148 minutes does seem a bit of a stretch and you start to feel it after the North Africa sequences whilst those who aren’t great with sound will have to deal with very loud noises that are bound to make the experience somewhat uncomfortable.
 
Despite all this, Spectre does an affirmative job in welcoming back parts of the classic Bond formula and possibly bringing the curtain down on Daniel Craig’s illustrious career as 007 with an action-packed bang.

 

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