Jamie Neish: Fun is but a spectre in new Bond

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

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BOND is back. Ian Fleming’s fictional secret service agent returned this week in Spectre, his 24th outing.

The last instalment, Skyfall, became the most successful Bond film ever, putting pressure onto returning director Sam Mendes and Bond Daniel Craig to recreate the magic. And have they?

Well, Spectre has its moments for sure - the opening sequence is dazzling - but it’s also unnecessarily convoluted, strained and long. Very long.

The plot finds Bond on a personal mission that takes him to exotic locations such as Mexico City, Rome, Austria and Morocco as the 00 programme is put out of business.

It starts off well. The first half is an intriguing thriller as Bond reveals more and more about shady organisation Spectre and why it has played such a massive part in his life. As the script unravels, however, so too does the film’s hold on its audience.

Spectre derails into a hodgepodge of ideas without a beating heart or the anticipated thrills. Even the mysterious villain, played by Christoph Waltz, is shortchanged.

Usually so good in everything he does, Waltz’s shtick is made taxing by some bad writing. The climax, in which the action moves to London, is a flustered end to a film that started off so promisingly, as if the team had no clear resolution in sight.

There’s little doubt that Spectre will bring in the numbers, with the first day figures matching that of Skyfall and an opening weekend in the tens of millions expected in the UK alone.

But in an age where all franchises are becoming darker and more complex, Bond simply follows suit instead of going against the grain and doing something different.

The charm of the series is still there, deep down. But it’s masked – and hurt – by a need to up the ante rather than embracing the series’ overall silliness and having some fun.