Firstly, rest assured this review contains no spoilers.
Well I loved it.
Whisper it, but Spectre is a bit of a Greatest Hits of Bond, harking back to several moments across the franchise's history. Aside from some stuff that would constitute spoilers, there's the opening pre-titles credit sequence which owes a lot to Live and Let Die; there's a brawl on a train with a fearsome heavy (the most fearsome heavy since...well, since I don't know when. The recent Bond movies haven't really dealt in this tradition); there's a moment which directly recalls a setpiece from The Man With The Golden Gun; there's a destructive vehicle chase across the snow that put me in mind of The Living Daylights, whilst the alpine clinic at the commencement of this scene is reminiscent of OHMSS; a gadget filled DB10 echoes Goldfinger; and there's a riff on the line "Our asylums are full of people who think they're Napoleon" that appears in Dr No. Not only that, but its choc-full - and rightly so - of direct references to all of Craig's previous films (though Quantum of Solace understandably gets somewhat ignored/overlooked) and I must admit to getting the shivers when I saw Vesper (amongst others) appear in the stunning title sequence. It's a very reflective, quietly celebratory piece on the Bond film, and what it is to be a Bond film. After the success of Skyfall, which is a great film in as much as it is a great Bond film, the film makers had to go out and make a quintessential Bond film, and with that respect, Spectre certainly delivers.
But it can also be argued that it is so reflective, that it has taken the story that first commenced with Craig's debut in Casino Royale and has now come full circle, that you can't help but wonder if this is designed to be Craig's farewell. I must admit to being a bit irked by the press and the online community pushing the notion of this being Craig's last Bond film and starting the name game of suggesting who could now step into his shoes for the next adventure. But after seeing it now for myself, I can see why that is a valid query and, yes, a concern.
If this is Craig's last, then I will go on record and say it's a shame - because Spectre shows us a much lighter Bond, with the ability to be laconic and to have funny incidents within the films once more. I especially love the humour which stems from the bystanders. A trope of the Bond films, it returned with Skyfall and has been ramped up here - though thankfully not to the double-take pigeon of Moonraker status! In short I'd like to see more of this light touch from Craig, especially as he has such brilliant chemistry with M, Q, Tanner and Moneypenny who are fast becoming characters to truly love in the franchise once more thanks to some superb playing from Fiennes, Whishaw, Kinnear and Harris. He's also given some sterling support from both the heroine and the villain this time around; Léa Seydoux is impressive as Madeleine Swann and the romance between her and Bond is touching and rather effective, whilst Christoph Waltz is used carefully and brilliantly and already feels quite iconic.
Whatever happens, James Bond Will Return...and on the strength of this thoroughly enjoyable outing, I cannot wait.