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007 Origins Part II – ★★★

When Skyfall came to an end we had returned to the James Bond of old. Gone was the female M for a traditional man, Moneypenny had been reinstated and we thought we had the full story on Bond’s beginnings. With Spectre we realise there is much more to the tale and it unfolds in the familiar 007 way. Spectacular set pieces, fast cars and beautiful women with one or two gadgets thrown in for good measure.

Old M, Judi Dench, leaves Bond a message to hunt down and kill a man making sure he doesn’t miss the funeral. This results in the highlight of the film – a spectacular opening set piece in Mexico city on the day of the dead. Suspenseful action and just the right amount of humour result in one of the best openings of years and Sam Smith’s song actually fits the film quite well. At the funeral Bond gets a whiff of something fishy going on and it turns out the Octopus ring he has is the calling card of an international terror group Spectre. All his villains from Craig’s last three outings were all members and it seems that he will finally get to the bottom of it all.

Cue Christoph Waltz who plays Franz Oberhauser, an intellectual type who doesn’t get his hands dirty by hitting or beating people up. He leaves that to goon #1, Mr. Hinx played by Dave Bautista someone more akin to your Jaws-type Bond villain. This is where the film falls down and reverts to type, making it unoriginal and pedantic. While certainly each instalment in a franchise has some box ticking to do, the way in which it’s delivered could at least be varied.

Running parallel to all these shenanigans is the fact that the government is trying to shelve the entire 00 program. Andrew Scott plays Denbigh, a suit who thinks he knows all there is to know about espionage and intelligence. He’s determined to finish M, Ralph Fiennes, and will seemingly stop at nothing to achieve his goal. These exchanges allow for the usual grandstanding speeches about the world we live in and do the means justify the ends.

The main fault is nothing seems at stake in Spectre, there is no real emotional core which Judi Dench provided in Skyfall and Christoph Waltz is no match for Javier Bardem. Waltz seems to be on-screen far too little considering his vital role in proceedings. Perhaps the tedious car chase through Italy could have been pared back allowing him some more screen time. The love interest in Lea Seydoux is too rushed making their storyline seem preposterous. So it’s clear to see even with a run time of 148 minutes the focus has gone back to action while trying to have character depth, which it doesn’t succeed at no matter how hard it tries.

I suppose the real problem is that Skyfall was too damn good to be a Bond film.

Spectre opens Monday October 26th 2015

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Páraic wanted to be a gangster as far back as he can remember. Brought up on a diet of films he was too young to be watching by his brothers, all things 80s teens thanks to his sisters and the classics by his folks he's turned into a well-rounded (maybe a little too round) film lover. Only recently discovering North by Northwest, he longs for a train journey with a beautiful blond.

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