Take a sprinkle of Live and Let Die, a dash of You Only Live Twice and add a splash of The Living Daylights and you have the latest James Bond adventure: Spectre.
Director Sam Mendes brings us his second Bond film, Daniel Craig's fourth outing as 007 and the 24th film in the long-running legendary Spy franchise.
After the monumental success of Skyfall back in 2012, myself and fans alike waited with bated breath to see if this installment could equal or surpass the level of the last film. The short answer: it was worth the wait.
Spectre opens with a beautifully directed and breathtaking sequence during the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City. For the first few minutes we are greeted with a continuous free flowing shot following our favourite spy, 007, from the streets to the rooftops in pursuit of a mysterious adversary.
From then on, the action does not stop. The opening sequence oozes a mixture of charisma, action and instances that ring back to classic Bond.
One of the biggest talking points with any Bond film is the opening title sequence. The theme for Spectre is "The Writing's on the Wall" performed by English artist Sam Smith. It's not very memorable as a standalone song, but in the context of the title sequence for Spectre, it's powerful and works rather well. Although it is a fantastic title card, it most certainly is not on the level of the likes of the 2006 Casino Royale.
Without falling face first into spoiler territory, Spectre does a fantastic job of catering for both new and classic Bond fans.
The meeting hall scene (as seen in the trailer) is masterfully shot and is dripping with atmosphere. The haunting performance from Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser reaches its apex when the line from the trailer "Welcome, James" booms over the speakers. It felt as though he was addressing me (consult the name tag at the top of this review for extra clarification).
The supporting cast consists of returning characters: M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) along with some terrific performances by Dave Bautista and everybody's favourite British bad-guy, Andrew Scott.
As with any James Bond adventure, where would the legendary spy be without his Bond girl, this time portrayed by the wonderful Lea Seydoux. She plays Madeleine Swann, daughter of previous series character Mr White (who makes a welcome cameo in this film). Bond is tasked with protecting her whilst also utilising her knowledge of the mysterious organisation, Spectre, headed by Oberhauser (Waltz).
After the fallout at the end of Skyfall, MI6 is in disarray and M battles the worlds political forces to keep the secret service active. Bond must therefore make the most of his friendship ties with Q and Moneypenny in order to track down Oberhauser and put an end to Spectre whilst also discovering the secrets behind its history. The usual array of vehicles and gadget make a welcome re-apperance as with any 007 outing and an iconic chase scene through some narrow city streets will have even the veteran Bond fans on the edge of their seats.
What Sam Mendes has achieved here is simply fantastic. He has managed to, in many aspects surpass Skyfall in its intensity and stand out moments whilst also tie-ing up what could be called the end of Chapter 1 of the James Bond reboots. A villain (who was criminally underused but for what I hope is good reason) has been introduced to all which gifts whoever takes over the directorial duties afterwards much more lore to play with.
In what could be Daniel Craig's last outing as Bond, the actor has once again shown why, back in 2006 when he was cast in the role, he was the right man to fill the famous tuxedo. For many he has grown into the role incredibly well and, if this is to be his final hoorah, he went out on a high.
If you are a fan of James Bond or spy movies in general, Spectre will not disappoint you. It does not completely alienate viewers that have not seen the previous missions although it is heartily recommended that you do so beforehand as they are all rather good. It's full of action and suspense and hearing that theme song once again will remind you why this franchise is one of the greatest movie series of all time.
Spectre is out now in IMAX and 2D in the UK and on November 6th in the US.