Spectre is up there with the great Bonds…

PARDON me while I unzip this beautiful woman’s dress, punch that bearded ugly mug, explode that building, resuscitate that helicopter twirling through the sky like a metal seedpod, escape from that Aston Martin heading for a watery grave, and grimace while an insanely cruel dentist’s drill enters the side of my face.

Yes, I went to see the new Bond last night. Spectre is a fantastic Bond outing, ludicrously and operatically ridiculous – yet superbly done. The pace doesn’t let up for a second as the blessedly mad plot veers from extravagant location to extravagant location.

The film starts with an extended sequence in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead, a thrilling backdrop for a spiralling escapade that leaves you gasping.

Daniel Craig has really grown into Bond and is surely now one of the greats, properly tough and properly physical, and able to brush up well in the required manner: he fills a suit as if ready to pop out of it. Which sometimes he does.

The storyline featuring Christoph Waltz as an Austrian psycho-nutcase who runs the evil data-amassing empire Spectre is satisfying in an anti-bureaucratic, anti-modern life sort of way. The world, and indeed the security services as now headed by the slimy C (Andrew Scott), is enslaved by information gathering. Even the misbehaving Bond has a tracking device injected into his bloodstream. But in the end only low-tech punching and shooting Bond can save the world from the malign info-gatherers.

There is much to like about this absurdly enjoyable, cartoonish romp from Sam Mendes: a sexy-sullen partner for Bond in the petulant, butt-kicking shape of Dr Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux); Ranulph Fiennes’ M leaving the office to join the fray (and deliver the film’s wittiest line); and Ben Whishaw having thin-skinned fun as Q, here getting away from the gadget bench and joining Bond in that dangerous outside world.

Do go and see Spectre. You won’t be disappointed. It’s unstoppable, ear-bashing entertainment (hell, it’s loud) with just the right vein of thoughtfulness running through it.

What struck me also was how uplifting it was to sit in a full City Screen cinema, enjoying a new blockbuster with so many other people. There is so much choice nowadays, so many options, that the chance to be united in one great event has diminished. Live sport still does that trick, I guess – but culturally, we suffer from too much choice and too little of value. Years ago Bruce Springsteen sang about 57 Channels (And Nothin’ On), a lyric which surely needs updating. 257 Channels And Still Sod All To Watch.

Choice is always sold to us as a benefit, as the free market providing more and more of everything. But sometimes more is less. As we all splinter off to watch different TV programmes, or waste our hours with too much Nothin’ On, a good Bond film in a full cinema revives the power of mass entertainment. Well it certainly did that for me.

Leave a Reply