james bond Spectre
4/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Sam Mendes
prd Michael G Wilson, Barbara Broccoli
scr John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
with Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Andrew Scott, Dave Bautista, Rory Kinnear, Jesper Christensen, Alessandro Cremona
release UK 26.Oct.15, US 6.Nov.15
15/UK MGM 2h28
An epic quest: Craig and Seydoux

waltz fiennes harris
Quantum of Solace (2008) Skyfall (2012)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Spectre While once again maintaining a dramatic pace, Sam Mendes returns the 007 franchise to its classic structure with this epic adventure. From the blazing opening extended tracking shot, it's clear that he's not rushing things, building thrills and characters in ways few action movies bother to do. At its core, this is a quietly riveting mystery that works on both a global and personal scale for Bond.

Both James Bond (Craig) and MI6 are still reeling from the attacks on them. M (Fiennes) is fighting to keep the agency together against pressure from C (Scott) to join a restructured British Security Service in a worldwide initiative. Meanwhile, Bond is on a personal mission in Rome, where he discovers that someone from his past, Oberhauser (Waltz), is still alive. In Austria he learns more, collecting a sidekick in Madeleine (Seudoux), daughter of an old nemesis (Christensen). And pursued by the goon Hinx (Bautista), Bond and Madeleine head to Oberhauser's North African lair.

All of this kicks off in Mexico with an spectacular pre-title sequence involving a massive Day of the Dead parade. Mendes and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema establish a grand scale and build from there. Each setting includes more impressive scene-setting, quiet character-building drama, clues to the larger quest and ultimately a nail-biting battle. Although as this is Bond there isn't much real suspense about how any of this will turn out.

Craig is superb, more relaxed in the character's skin and more focussed in his drive. There are moments of cold-hearted intensity, clear-eyed action and of course seduction. And through it all is the gripping sense that this is very personal for Bond, so the revelations shake him deeply. Seydoux is superb as a steelier-than-usual Bond girl. There's more action for Fiennes, Whishaw's Q and Harris' Moneypenny. And while Belucci has strong presence in an oddly tiny role, Waltz is riveting but muted as the uber-villain.

As he did in Skyfall, Mendes drops constant references to classic 007 films that will keep fans happy. Action sequences are exhilarating without being hyperactive; conversations are pointed and packed with verbal bombs. There's plenty of humour, but not a single cheesy one-liner. And while cyber-defence, surveillance ops and nano-technology add a present day touch, the film's structure is classic Bond. It also fits into the narrative line of Craig's previous three movies, as the character grapples with both his past and his future.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 21.Oct.15

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