Stirred, but not shaken
Director: Sam Mendes (Skyfall) Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris Verdict: Plenty of Bonding, but not all of it sticks
THE lavishly appointed Spectre (the most expensive Bond picture) takes 148 slogging minutes (the longest Bond picture) to end up as one of the most average Bond pictures.
Long-time devotees of all things 007 will be satisfied enough after feasting on this whopping chunk of spy candy. Less-committed onlookers will wish there had been a little more lasting flavour to the whole sweet-and-sour experience.
In one of the greatest and gripping standalone intros to grace a Bond production, we find 007 within the cramped confines of a helicopter in full flight.
James is having one hell of a brawl with both a fellow passenger and the pilot of the craft.
Just to up the stakes somewhat spectacularly, the chopper is ducking and diving all over a crowded Central American town square.
If Jimmy doesn’t win the punch-up and take the controls in time, 100,000 Mexicans are going to get a haircut they’ll never forget.
Once Spectre finally gets down to the business at hand, some 45 minutes of obligatory filler have come and gone. Primarily so Bond nerds can tick off on all the stuff they expect to see upon catching up with their old buddy for the 24th time.
A right royal chewing-out from M (Ralph Fiennes) for being a naughty 007 down in Mexico? Check.
Pay goofy gizmo whizmo Q (Ben Whishaw) a visit for a gadget upgrade? Sure.
Low-level late-night flirtation with Moneypenny (Naomie Harris)? OK.
Medium-strength sexcapade with a glamazon (Monica Bellucci) who won’t be seen ever again? Yep.
High-def close-ups of all products that have paid a pile for prominent placement in the picture? Done.
While Mr Bond still very much holds his famous licence to kill, he also has to carry around a contract to fulfill.
It is only once James has hookedup properly with this movie’s interchangeable exotic femme fatale of choice (French star Lea Seydoux) that Spectre snaps out of its rut, and rapidly works up a few quality rushes of blood.
Though the impressively-staged action sequences vary in potency – a marathon round of vehicular parkour on the streets of Rome is a highlight, as is any combat scene that doesn’t lean too hard on weapons or explosions – they never bore.
That is the job of Spectre’s snoozy bad-dude Oberhauser (an uncharacteristically hammy Christoph Waltz), who spends more time villain-splaining what he might be up to, rather than committing actual acts of villainy.