Directed by Martin Campbell, starring Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rufus Sewell, Adrian Alonso and Nick Chinlund.

'The Mask of Zorro' was, along with 'Blade', one of the surprise treats of 1998. It was an action movie that was smart and funny, with great screen chemistry and set pieces and also had Anthony Hopkins to bring a certain gravitas to proceedings. The film was directed by Martin Campbell, who had brought Bond back to life in 'GoldenEye'. Campbell is also in the director's chair for the upcoming 'Casino Royale' and, having seen his work on this sequel, you hope he's in better form when Daniel Craig is in front of the lens.

Taking place 10 years after the original adventure, 'The Legend of Zorro' finds Alejandro de la Vega (Banderas) and Elena (Zeta-Jones) married, and parents of a mischief-making son, Joaquin (Alonso). Married life and fatherhood hasn't stopped Alejandro from donning mask and cape as Zorro, however, and his decision to remain the man of the people is causing friction between himself and Elena.

Having promised his wife that he will quit after one last mission, Alejandro then goes back on his word, saying that he should hold on to his sword until California's vote about joining the United States is complete. It's the final straw - Elena throws him out and divorce papers are served. But Alejandro never gives up hope of a reconciliation and when a wealthy French arrival Armand (Sewell) starts courting Elena's affections, Alejandro and his alter-ego have more than just a romantic fight to deal with.

While 'The Mask of Zorro' was a joy to watch, it was hardly the subject of a frenzied online campaign for a sequel, so the decision to wait seven years before trying to repeat its box office clout is puzzling. Everything seemed to be in place for success, with Zeta-Jones, Banderas and Campbell returning, but this film offers nothing new and won't be remembered after the posters come down.

Much of the humour of 'The Mask of Zorro' is missing and instead we get a war on terror-themed plot about a plan to blow up Washington DC. It sounds intriguing, but the film - despite the efforts of Banderas and Zeta-Jones - just doesn't have the spark of the original; Sewell's baddie is unconvincing and, worst of all for an action movie, this drags.

For a film that's supposed to up the thrills ante, 'The Legend of Zorro' starts promisingly, becomes progressively more uninteresting in the middle and while the finale onboard a moving train does rouse spirits somewhat, there's too much damage done by that stage for this to be a worthy addition to the swashbuckler genre.

"The people still need Zorro!" proclaims Banderas in one scene. On this evidence, not much.

Harry Guerin