Spectre (2015)

James Bond, holding a gun in front of a masked man, with the film's title and creditsIn-Spectre Gadget

Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Andrew Scott
Running Time: 148 Minutes

The script leak, Sam Smith's warbling, and Daniel Craig preferring to self harm over make a sequel. It looked as though a meta scenario was taking place, where Spectre were out to damage things before Bond's latest even hit screens. Rest assured, as these aspects have not damaged the overall product of Craig's latest (and last?) turn as 007.

A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail, which takes him to the heart of a sinister organisation. While M deals with political forces to save his secret service, Bond peels back layers of deceit, to uncover the truth behind SPECTRE, and the man spearheading the organisation.

The film opens with a stunning sequence, set during Mexico's Day of the Dead festival, as Bond goes on a personal mission which results in  Things then transition into the opening credits, where Sam Smith's song actually fits in well, even if the falsetto remains grating.

By this point, Daniel Craig could have coasted through the role, not needing to try. Thankfully, he's the same engaging presence that he's been since Casino Royale, bringing the same cool attitude and suave charm which make Bond such an icon.

As the film's Bond girl, Leà Seydoux manages to have the good combination of character development and likeability which leaves Madeline Swann as more than the generic "love interest/hostage" double pack. Shame the lovely Monica Belluchi was rather underused. While the ensemble of Moneypenny, M, Tanner and Q could've remained on the wayside until Bond needed each of them, they manage to contribute throughout and show Bond's not the only one competent at Spy work.

Mr Hinx, Armed and Dangerous

Dave Bautista takes on the role as henchman Mister Hinx, a silent man who says all he needs to with his expressions and his actions. The character will be remembered a particularly brutal fight onboard a train, but he's a welcome addition to Bond's rogues gallery.

Then there's Christoph Waltz's character. As Franz Oberhauser, he appears shrouded in darkness, being built up as somebody of importance, claiming to have a far reach over events from Bond's past. But the problem is that's all this is, claims. We're never privy to specifics as to how he was responsible for key events in Bond's life, it just feels like pointless bragging. This decision especially contradicts moments from previous films, so the idea that he's a key orchestrator in James' life rings false. Not helped is how Waltz surprisingly brings little to the role, failing to show the menace which garnered him acclaim for Inglorious Basterds.

The script tackles the topics of surveillance ethics and the relevance of field agents in a world of drones, managing to feel topical. While these aspects could've been explored a tad more, it isn't as though they fall to the wayside the way the Maguffin hard-drive did in Skyfall. It manages to remain a part of the main plot, leaving what exploration we got as sufficient enough.

A car chase takes place through Rome, any excitement feels deflated by the emphasis on the humorous moments. This is especially a shame, as Sam Mendes manages to shoot other set-pieces and action scenes with excitement that'll get your heart going, especially an effective torture scene.

If Spectre does turn out to be Craig's swansong as the iconic character, then it remains a worthy way to close the book on his tenure. While Christoph Waltz's villainous role may be the biggest disappointment, it doesn't detract from the set-pieces which are exciting, or how great it is to spend time with these characters.