As a contender for the most expensive movie ever made, the winner of a Guinness Book of Records spot for the largest explosion ever filmed, and as the film which knocked Harry Potter off its perch for opening week-end earnings, Spectre needs to be taken seriously.
Or does it. This is a Bond film which gets the knife edge balance perfectly between spectacular non-stop action and awareness that it is a cult movie in the making.
The props are there -- $40 million of cars are trashed, and once again we have an allegedly secret agent driving a vehicle designed to draw every eye.
It is a very well made film – even managing a social commentary on how governments use the internet to spy on all of us.
And it mixes the usual ingredients – spectacular scenery, pyrotechnics, car chases, beautiful women and dark and dazzling dastardly plots.
Just what we expect in a Bond film.
An extra element is the nostalgia : references to some of the other couple of dozen Bond films. A fight on a train (From Russia with Love). Nehru jackets (from Dr No). A medical clinic in snowy mountains, with a chase down the slopes (On Her Majesty's Secret Service). A voodoo opening (Live and Let Die). A helicopter sequence (For Your Eyes Only). A mute henchman (Goldfinger). Judie Dench in a cameo role as "M" delivering a posthumous message to Bond. And there is more – I'm sure I've seen a plane lose its wings and keep in the chase before, but I can't remember in which film.
Which is not to suggest that what we have is heated-up recycled Bond. Everything is taken to a new level, and with a plot twist which links many of Bond's previous dark moments and gives them a sinister patina of revenge.
Right from the beginning, with a superbly filmed sequence of the Day of the Dead in Mexico City, we are engaged in non-stop action, which places us in a helicopter meandering crazily over a terrified crowd, while Bond tangles with the villains. From there to the snow, to a train, to a booby-trapped concrete jungle the action and the tension does not flag.
As always, there is heated debate as to where the film ranks in the Bond oeuvre.
I side with those who see it as among the best Bond films.
As Bond drives off (once more in a uniquely iconic car) I want him to come back, and I want him to be Daniel Craig.