007 is back! But after the excellent return to form that was ‘Skyfall’, can it’s followup ‘Spectre’ live up to expectations? The answer: sadly not.

Returning director Sam Mendes takes Bond in a completely different direction than ‘Skyfall’ in this outing, harkening back to the classic Bond formula while forgetting that said formula does not necessarily make a good film.

The plot centres, or meanders, around 007 attempting to track down a criminal organisation as the final wish of Judy Dench’s late M, although it never really seems to stop to ask ‘why’ until it becomes a vengeance plot with Bond seeking out the head of the aforementioned organisation, Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz.

All parties involved give an admirable performance, yet with a half-cooked script and a general sense of confused characterisation the whole thing pales in comparison to ‘Skyfall’s complex character examination and dramatic tension.

‘Spectre’ is perhaps the most action-driven Bond film yet, and while it arguably never tops its first scene in this regard, there are some memorable sequences throughout that pay homage to earlier Bond films, namely ‘From Russia with Love’, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, and the climax of pretty much every Roger Moore Bond film. If you are a Bond fan, or even just an appreciator, these scenes are great nostalgic injections and demonstrate at least what the film is trying to be.

Unfortunately it never does quite become ‘Goldfinger’, instead ending up more ‘A View to A Kill’ (though at least Lea Seydoux is more than just another damsel in distress and her chemistry with Craig is mesmerising), as while the great 007 films use their tropes to enhance their story, ‘Spectre’ uses them just for the sake of using them. The biggest redeeming quality of the film, surprisingly, is the third act which finally manages to make it feel like there is something at stake and provides a satisfying resolution to not only this film but all the films of Craig’s era.

It’s just a shame that so much of ‘Spectre’ is overlong, messily-organised and just a bit too much ‘Spectre’-cle and not enough substance. The end result is a Bond film that ends up roughly in the middle of the pack if it were to come to ranking all 24.

READ: Daniel’s Review

Nic C AG C

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