Spectre is the 4th installment in the rebooted Daniel Craig era and we pick up post Skyfall where Bond continues to act outside the parameters of MI6 and investigates a cryptic message left to him that leads him to SPECTRE, a secret organisation who are connected to Bond’s past, present and future. Meanwhile ‘M’ is under political siege and is doing everything he can to save the secret service from being shut down.
One thing this rebooted part of the franchise definitely deserves credit for is the way they went about changing the perception of Bond. Smack bang in the middle of a decade where everything is being rebooted James Bond definitely stands above 90% of other stuff out there. Looking at his origin and not making him infallible made him a more relatable and interesting character to get to see develop. Casino Royal started this off incredibly strongly but after 3 films this installment felt like it started to lose its way a little bit.
The basics of the film are sound. The shooting of scenes are often extremely picturesque and transition using the scenery as its focus point works really well. The soundtrack suited a film that always on the constant build up of the story and it was acted as well as can be expected given the acting talent on show.
Craig now wears James Bond as well as a tailored fitted suit, everything we saw him go through previous is present under the surface but here he became more cheeky, arrogant and sleek, everything James Bond is meant to be. Christopher Waltz as the big bad is more than competent but just didn’t have enough screen time. Yes, in a film that is nearly 2 and a half hours long the main villain doesn’t have enough screen time. Its a tragedy to have someone of Waltz’s caliber wasted like this and it had detrimental effect to the villain. Franz Oberhauser is meant to be this character that lurks in the shadows, pulling the strings, but we never really see him interact with Bond until act 3. More taunting from our villain was needed to make the finale have more of an impact. It’s what Mission Impossible 5 got spot on with their villain. Monica Bellucci also suffers from a lack of screen time and Dave Bautista does more than a fine job as the main henchman. I’m fine with not having the big bad being the total package smart and able to kick ass and his scenes were well constructed and lent to his strengths for the time he is in the film. Making him practically mute I thought was a mistep though. He has already proven (with Guardians of the Galaxy) he can act so there was no need to restrict his performance in this way. Just a little more dialogue could have taken his rivalry with Bond up a notch.
Where the film lets itself down is in the way Sam Mendes decided to direct it. The natural progression from Casino Royal to Quantum of Solace to Skyfall makes sense. We look at a dysfunctional Bond and get to see why he turns into what he turns into through his past, his womanising and how he deals with the morality of the kill. Spectre then makes this almighty jump and is more of a homage to the Bond’s of the past. There is silliness, right at the start of the film Bond is running across a collapsing building at the Day of the Dead festival. It’s a good set piece, it looks great, is tense and the effects are convincing until to finish this action sequence Bond ends up falling and landing on a perfectly placed sofa that has remained untouched by a crumbling building. This silly convenience was the sort of tone Mendes ended up going for. Much like many of the Brosnan Bond films there were a couple of chase sequences in here where Bond is out run and loses those he’s chasing, one cut shot later suddenly he’s found, and is operating a plane to chase them down. How did he find the plane? How did he get it? How does he know how to operate it? Don’t planes need a runway to take off, it takes a little bit of time doesn’t it? It’s just lazy story telling and something Spectre’s predecessors avoided for the most part. Unfortunately it is not the only time this happens.
As expected there are Bond girls, and as expected one of them inevitably has a romance with him, which is all fine as long as it isn’t one of two things.1, not a throw away romance for the sake of convenience because the female in question is just ‘there’ and can’t resist him, or 2, is exactly the same romance as we’ve seen in previous installments undoing all the characters emotional progression that has been made after 3 films. In this film it is the latter where the problem lies. We have already seen Bond chuck in his ’00’ status for love, trying proving that he can be something more than just a cold blooded killer and thus there was no reason to use exactly the same reasoning for his romance in this film. It is unimaginative writing and while the romance is only a sub-plot, Bond’s inability to look after the women in his life and his womanising goes to the heart of the character, what we see is a regression from where he has come from.
This is just a nit pick but no matter how popular Sam Smith’s Bond song is I don’t need to wait for nearly 5 minutes for the film to start. NEVER.
This is a good but not a great film. The action sequences were on point, inventive, tense and enjoyable. There’s plenty for the film buffs in the way of how mood setting and memorable scenery was shot. Where the film lets itself down is that it has gone back to being more of a traditional Bond flick and stepping away from the depth and grittiness the previous Bonds had been developing.