Sam plays it again

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased 22 Fe­bru­ary 2015 | 12A | Blu- ray/ DVD

Di­rec­tor Sam Men­des

Cast Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz,

Léa Sey­doux, Ralph Fi­ennes

Feel­ing the pres­sure of other work com­mit­ments and the stress of fol­low­ing up Sky­fall’s out­stand­ing suc­cess, Sam Men­des at one point dropped out of di­rect­ing Bond’s 24th of­fi­cial cin­e­matic ad­ven­ture. Thank good­ness he came back, though, be­cause even though SPEC­TRE might not be quite the equal of its pre­de­ces­sor, it sees Men­des de­liver an­other as­sured and vis­ually beau­ti­ful film that is also loaded with per­son­al­ity.

Pick­ing up a short while after Sky­fall, the story finds 007 on the hunt for more in­for­ma­tion about the peo­ple be­hind his re­cent mis­for­tunes. At the same time, he’s pon­der­ing his fu­ture with the se­cu­rity ser­vices, all the while find­ing time for the req­ui­site fight­ing, driv­ing, ro­manc­ing and even some wry hu­mour. Chan­nelling more of the clas­sic Bond feel that oc­ca­sion­ally per­me­ated Sky­fall, here we have the world’s most fa­mous se­cret agent glo­be­trot­ting to Mex­ico, Aus­tria, Rome and Tang­iers.

But though it’s cer­tainly full of a lot that Bond fans will en­joy – Daniel Craig’s on form, the in­ter­play be­tween M and co is suitably droll and Léa Sey­doux makes for a sparky side­kick – not ev­ery­thing clicks into place in quite the same way as Men­des’s pre­vi­ous ef­fort. There’s some creep­ing dis­ap­point­ment with how the re­veal of the Big Bad shakes out, and Mon­ica Bel­lucci is wasted in a noth­ing role – a true mis­use of a real tal­ent. Plus the tone never quite gels from scene to scene, with the team seem­ingly feel­ing the strain of shoot­ing such a big pro­duc­tion be­ing felt a lit­tle more keenly this time. Still, Bond is back for, if not a com­pletely stand­out ef­fort, cer­tainly a wor­thy ad­di­tion to the canon.

Ex­tras An un­der­whelm­ing bunch. On DVD you just get the short video blogs that pre­vi­ously ap­peared on­line. The Blu- ray adds a more in- depth look at the open­ing, and a gallery. James White

Mon­ica Bel­lucci pre­vi­ously au­di­tioned for a role in 1997’ s To­mor­row Never Dies, but lost out to Teri Hatcher.

Typ­i­cal of Bond to go too far on Bon­fire Night.

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