No. It does not.
In actual fact, Mendes didn't need to make a film bigger and better than its predecessor at all; just one that lived up to it, justified our faith in him and rewarded fans with another glorious slice of world-class Bondery. Spectre does none of those things. Where Skyfall was a daringly-structured rolling boulder of excitement, full of knowing winks and arch commentary on the place of the series in modern cinema, Spectre is a paper chase from A to B to C, deviating only to take in M and Q. It's all surface, like most of the pre-Daniel Craig era; given that we've had three films reinventing the character for modern audiences, the temptation to take him back to his 1970s incarnation - as if that's some kind of benchmark - is both understandable and utterly ill-advised. Parts of it work, sure, but so much of it just feels... ordinary. And if there's one thing Bond must never, ever be, it's ordinary.
Chess, for example. Ordinary. Why not 3D hologrammatic space chess?
If you've followed any of the film's build-up, even just the officially-sanctioned synopsis, trailers and so on, you'll know exactly what happens in Spectre. And what they haven't told you, you can probably guess. Bond was sent to find his Mexico target by a "message from his past", which turns out to be a nice touch but makes zero sense when you think about it. Acting against orders (for a change), he jets off to Rome, where the much-trumpeted "Bond woman" Monica Bellucci is wasted in a staggeringly Moore-esque scene that won't do anything to help the argument that Bond
That's right, he can bend flexible rubber tubing WITH HIS BARE HANDS
Before long we're in Austria, where previous über-villain Mr White is hunkered down in his cellar, tossing himself off to rolling news channels. This is where we expect to find out the connection between Quantum and the mysterious new organisation, but it's inadequately explained. You'll know from the trailers that Spectre, and its boss man Franz Oberhauser, are responsible for all Bond's pain, but my god does that involve some clumsy ret-conning. "It's always been me", says Oberhauser in his later, inevitable monologue, but frankly we've only got his word for it. The facts don't really add up and nobody can be bothered to show their working out.
It's nice to see Q pop up in Austria, although how he got there is a mystery: remember in Skyfall when Moneypenny said he was afraid of flying? No, neither do the writers. Still, it's fun to see Ben Whishaw - along with MI6 engine roomers Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear and Naomie Harris - get involved in a bit of the action; Fiennes, especially, teases out his M's military background in some of the film's classier dialogue. It's just a shame he has to keep arguing with Andrew Scott's government wonk about how vital the Double-0 section is, given that he spent most of Skyfall disagreeing with Judi Dench's M, who said exactly the same things he says here but with added Tennyson.
"I know a little Roger McGough, will that do?"
If it's Act III, it must be Tangier, and a decent stretch of good stuff plays out in a hotel room between Bond and Léa Seydoux's Madeleine Swann, which is then undone by a conversation on a train which draws inevitable and unfavourable comparisons with Casino Royale's superior Bond / Vesper train-based chinwag. Possibly the film's best action sequence follows, and it owes a huge debt to From Russia With Love, but even that is immediately dampened by an unnecessary coda.
And then, after about a hundred minutes, Christoph Waltz finally shows his face. Was it worth the wait? You guessed it. Waltz is wasted here, trying desperately to add some idiosyncracies to his two-dimensional villain but never being allowed to explore the character like we know he can. His scheme is depressingly low-key, and his personal beef with Bond means nothing and goes nowhere. He will, however, make you even more terrified of going to the dentist. Fortunately the final act picks up considerably, and contains a neat in-joke for hardcore Bond fans (hello, I understood that reference), but by then it's too late to save the film. Nothing we've seen has been especially new, exciting or unexpected, and in a post-Skyfall world that seems like a huge missed opportunity.
I know, man. I know. Let it out.
If you've made it this far, then I'm sorry for your loss, but let me just add one more personal thing: special mention must go to Spectre's chief villain, Thomas Newman, for whom a sauna in hell is reserved for his score. I found his work in Skyfall brilliantly up to date and innovative, different enough from David Arnold's preceding work but recognisably Bondian even without much of the James Bond Theme. It appears Newman felt the same way, because around half of Spectre's score consists of cues lifted directly from Skyfall. Almost every set-piece is scored by music I instantly recognised, and it repeatedly pulled me out of the film, making me more and more furious. That's unforgivable enough, but he also chooses to ignore the Bond Theme again, when it would have lifted so much of Spectre's action. God only knows what John Barry - who knocked out eleven distinct but connected Bond scores, all brilliant, and one of them in just three weeks - would make of it.
We're not dealing with Die Another Day levels of dreadful here, and there's plenty in Spectre to please casual Bond fans and unfussy cinemagoers. But I'm writing this review as someone who cares so much about these films it's embarrassing. I don't expect perfection and I can forgive a lot in Bond; I mean, I actually really like Quantum Of Solace. But Bond is at its best when it ignores what's going on around it and reaches further and pushes harder to be its own thing, to surprise and excite, and to tell audiences what they want to see rather than react to what it thinks they want to see. Spectre doesn't do that, but, you know, maybe Bond 25 will. James Bond will always return.