For a spy in his mid forties it's apt that James Bond's latest adventure shows signs of middle aged - or mid film - spread.
Spectre, as you know, is the longest 007 epic so far, and it shows with a baggy second act.
However, despite mixed reviews, Daniel Craig's fourth outing as Ian Fleming's super spy is often a hugely enjoyable affair, knitting together his previous entries in the saga.
After the standout pre-titles set piece in Mexico City (one long Touch of Evil-style take being a high point), we wonder why Bond has targeted a random bloke with extreme prejudice.
Soon all becomes clear thanks to a message from an old colleague. Then we're off, following him on a breadcrumb trail around the world, bedding a widow here or a young woman there.
When he's not wrestling with duvets, he's usually gripping joysticks and gear sticks, trying to avoid crashes of a road or air based nature.
(There's a top chase with a DB10 which offers some fresh licks to the well worn medium.)
And then there's the inevitable showdown with the antagonist, here played by Christoph Waltz. He's charismatic, calculating and doesn't wear socks with his shoes. A clear sign of derangement.
Casino Royale benefited from one torture scene, this has another, though it's far more convoluted.
Craig is terrific in the lead role. Still not my favourite Bond, but he's slipped into the role again like a comfy pair of shoes. Dave Bautista is great as a lethal henchman, Lea Seydoux is glacially cool and sexy, while Monica Bellucci is magnetic, despite too little time on screen.
Though David Arnold will always be my favourite post-John Barry composer, Thomas Newman's score crackles with portent and payoff in all the right places, while Hoyte Van Hoytema's 50 shades of grey colour palette is in stark contrast to Roger Deakins' high def Skyfall. (All the colours of the spectrum, unlike Spectre).
Director Sam Mendes sustains the attention for the most of the two hour 28 run time. An Eyes Wide Shut-style meeting with the eponymous organisation drags like a wet weekend, but as an actor's director he coaxes good turns from the now usual suspects, including Ben Whishaw as Q and the divine Naomie Harris as Moneypenny. Her reveal in the final minutes of Skyfall was an unexpected twist for me at least. A couple of the revelations here are far more obvious, but still rewarding.
It'll be interesting to see where cast and crew take the next chapter in two or three years. However, for now 007 is back on form, and should bother the movie charts for some weeks to come.Suggest a correction