NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, November 4, 2015, 11:16 PM
You only live twice? Don’t believe it. James Bond is back for a 24th film — and purring like an Aston Martin in “Spectre.”
Sure, star Daniel Craig has said this may be his last Bond. If he does another, it’ll only be for the money — like he did the last three for free.
Well, if he does go, at least he leaves on a high note — and even with a bit of a happy ending.
They’ve been hard to come by for Craig’s 007, who’s learned everything he loves dies. First it was Vesper Lynd in “Casino Royale.” Then, in “Skyfall,” it was old M herself.
This adventure picks up where that one left off, with the 00-program in ruins and Bond on the trail of … he’s not sure what. But the search stretches from Mexico to Morocco, and leads to a shadowy terrorist organization known as Spectre.
If you’re an old-school Bond fan, you could not be happier to see that group — think Hydra, but with better tailors — is back in business. And it’s not the only nostalgia director Sam Mendes evokes.
There’s a car with an ejector seat, right out of “Goldfinger.” A fight on a train that nods to “From Russia With Love.” And all the usual touches — dinner jackets, vodka martinis, sleek hideouts — we’ve come to expect since “Dr. No.” And there are new treats, like the single, sinuous camera shot that starts us off at a Day of the Dead parade.
The movie stumbles right after that, with an awful title-song sequence. Sorry, Sam Smith, but you’re no Adele. The movie bogs down in the middle, too, when it confusingly tries to tie the last few films together.
But Craig is cruelly efficient. Dave Bautista makes a good, Oddjob-like assassin.
And while Lea Seydoux doesn’t leave a huge impression as this film’s “Bond girl,” perhaps it’s because we’ve already met — far too briefly — the hypnotic Monica Bellucci, as the first real “Bond woman” since Diana Rigg.
Since a Bond movie is only as good as its bad guy, it’s terrific that Christoph Waltz is on hand as — well, that would be telling. But he adds just the right touch of snobbish villainy. And whether or not Craig is fed up, I guarantee Waltz will be back for more.
And so will Bond fans.