Spectre ★★★

It takes an active effort to avoid a new James Bond film. The previous installment, Skyfall, took over a billion pounds worldwide and is quite easily the most successful British film of all time. Spectre looks to beat even that, with sold-out showings across the country on day of release (26th October).

Spectre, the twenty fourth Bond film (and fourth since Casino Royale rebooted the series), sees James Bond track down a mysterious syndicate responsible, it seems, for everything that’s happened in Bond’s life up to this point. The British Secret Service is also battling its own internal battles for relevance and trust amidst the fallout of Skyfall. Daniel Craig returns as James Bond (in what may well be his final appearance), as does Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny etc. Christoph Waltz plays the villainous Franz Oberhauser.

It’s worth saying straight away that Spectre is a very entertaining film. And a technically good one too- up there with Casino Royale most likely. But it’s not quite as good as Skyfall, which although unsurprising is somewhat of a shame.

The action is great, and from airplane sequences in snow-topped forests to car chases in Rome to brutal fights aboard a train it rarely dips in its momentum. Dave Bautista really shines in these sequences too, his bulldozing rhino character Mr. Hinx a fantastic throwback to classic Bond villains of old. It’s funnier than most Bond films too, though I won’t spoil it here.

In fact I enjoyed it so thoroughly that there’s very little to criticise, and the one point I have isn’t so much a damning critique as it is just an observation. I didn’t feel that Christoph Waltz’ character (although played fantastically and in perfectly creepy Waltz style) had quite the same development as, say, Silva in Skyfall. Although backstory is given Oberhauser feels a little two-dimensional in his motives (beyond the usual plan for world domination/ terror), and I do wonder whether those few that haven’t seen the original canon of Bond films would see the character as nearly as interesting as fans will.

Still, it’s a great film and a lot of fun. It looks great too- not quite as beautiful as the shots of Scotland in (you guessed it) Skyfall, but stunning in places all the same. And despite its lengthy running time of 148 minutes, it never feels remotely boring. Following up its predecessor was always going to be a hard challenge, but Spectre does so incredibly well. Sam Mendes has managed to create another of the best James Bond films.