Go! Bond becomes Bond again.
It's a Bond film.
Okay, okay, I get it. Pretty much all of you loved Skyfall. I gave it a resounding Don't Go, mainly for messing with the standard Bond template and for its shameless advertising of sponsored products. It was a bit depressing as well - James was grumpy and weepy, like a pitiful X Factor contestant that everyone hates at Judges' Houses but infuriatingly, somehow, eventually comes third. Nonetheless, in order to avoid being trolled about it for the rest of my life, I will go so far as admitting that even if it is still a Don't Go, Skyfall was...fine (happy now?). It just wasn't Bond enough to be worth seeing in the cinema. In Spectre, Sam Mendes is back in the director's chair and Daniel Craig is back in Tom Ford's magnificent suits. We've been expecting you Mr Bond! Do we expect you to talk? No, Mr Bond! We expect you to illogically save the world in a super-witty, super-sexy way. Make it happen.
Thankfully, this time, there is a megalomaniac with a very slightly suggestive name (Blofeld) who wants to take over the world. He has a fluffy cat, an actual lair and is suitably played by a man with a menacing Germanic accent (Christoph Waltz; Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained) who leads a huge criminal boy band with more interchangeable members than the Sugababes. Blofeld is the Dane Bowers, the Gary Barlow, the Brian Harvey, the Harry Styles; leading a group of lesser males into the screams of the world's powerless population. Meanwhile, back in Blighty MI5 and MI6 have been merged to form an intelligence supergroup, like McBusted. The "double oh" programme (again, suitably suggestive) is at risk of being shut down by a man called "C" (Andrew Scott, Sherlock (TV Series)). In order to complete his mission, like a teenage girl who slips out at night to go and see the Backstreet Boys, James has to go rogue.
And what a wee rogue James "Double Or Even Triple Oh" Bond is. His libido has returned with a vengeance in Spectre, and his success in seduction is now virtually instantaneous. His lucky potential victims this time round are the eternally poised Italian beauty of fifty-one year old Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded) - playing the wife of a man recently murdered by Bond; and the youthful, intense and elegant madmoiselle, Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour) playing Dr. Madeleine Swann - the daughter of a man James had been trying to kill since Casino Royale. It takes a special kind of man to even try and sleep with the loved ones of a person whose recent death he is responsible for, but Jimmy B is incredibly special. What a wonderful role model. Horrible misogyny aside, this is admittedly what we expect from James Bond. After all, he was invented in the fifties, when you could drink a bottle of whisky to make a long drive more enjoyable, smoke a cigar to relax while you were pregnant, or justifiably indulge in a little domestic abuse after work simply because you'd had a hard day. They were good times, but it's now 2015, so before too long, he will surely be recalled to MI5 HQ and have to go through an awkward VHS video training session on sexual harassment. But until then, we can still watch a fantastical fictional man who borrowed his sexual ethics book from Robin Thicke. With just one page, written in a drunken scrawl, it simply reads, "Go for it. It's probably totally fine".
007's reignited loins are a reflection of a return to narrative normality after Skyfall. Probably as a result of that film's huge $1.1 billion box office takings, the sponsored products (other than watchmaker Omega) have largely faded into the background and the story is allowed to flow without rude commercial interruption. The cine-scapes and action scenes are spectacular, and appear less choreographed than its predecessor. Sunny Mexico City, nocturnal Rome, hazy Morocco, snowy Austria and moody London all get the technicolor treatment. The travel allows James to use a catwalk of clothing, from a Day-of-the-Dead black skeleton suit to a cosy, cable knit roll neck to a light brown linen number from the Suaveman Desertwear collection. Given how great his gear is, he quite rightly has more costume changes than a Katie Perry concert. There is a car chase between a magnificent new Aston Martin (which comes with a flame-thrower, as standard) and a snazzy red Jaguar. There is an enormous, unstoppable (yet ultimately stoppable) henchman. There is even a gadget! Welcome back, Mr Bond, welcome back.
Before it sounds like I'm greasing myself up to jump into bed with him myself (too late?), there are a couple reservations. Dame Judi Dench has been replaced by Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voledermort, Harry Potter Series) as M, and with no criticism of his performance, the franchise is a lesser place without her. As a powerful woman and the only one who seemingly didn't want to sleep with James, she was an important female antidote to a virulently virile film. At 2 hours 20 minutes long, Spectre does drag a little in the middle, although by no means terminally. And it was difficult to believe there would be much romantic tension in the relationship between Bond and Swann, purely because the gap in the actors' ages (Craig is 47 and Seydoux, 30) coupled with the characters' respective histories makes things...Complicated. Then again, I've never tried to kill anyone's dad, so have never had the chance to explore that as a potential aphrodisiac.