Directed by Sam Mendes.
Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Dave Bautista and Andrew Scott.
A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.
Opening with one of the most stylish and heart pounding sequences in Bond history, the 24th James Bond movie is full of action set pieces, witty dialogue and one of the best villains. We start with a long tracking shot of Bond working his way through the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City. He casually strolls along, gun over his shoulder, gracefully jumping between buildings. It’s beautiful to behold and the ensuing explosions and dramatic helicopter ride set the tone perfectly. Unfortunately we then get the opening song and it is simply a dud. There are some interesting visuals and the music of Sam Smith’s Writing’s on the Wall is sublime, however, it simply doesn’t have the grandeur of a Bond theme and slightly ruins the opening of the film.
Viewers who haven’t seen Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall may feel bemused by certain elements of the plot as there are references throughout. Thankfully there are enough action pieces to keep you entertained over the 148 minute run time. On this outing, Bond is on the hunt of the mysterious organisation known as SPECTRE with shadowy Oberhauser (Waltz) sitting at the head of the table. This is a call back to classic Bond and there are little homages throughout. From the Jaws-esque character of Mr Hinx (Bautista) through to a fight on a train akin to From Russia with Love; screenwriters John Logan, Neil Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth know their Bond mythology and embrace it with every twist and turn. In Spectre Bond travels all over the world from Mexico to Rome, Tangiers, Austria and so on. It’s a beautifully shot film that relishes in the absurdities of the plot and despite its long run time, never feels dull.
There are however, weaknesses and they mainly lie with the female characters. There was much hype around the casting of Monica Bellucci but unfortunately she is completely wasted in a thankless role. It seems she is there purely for her appearance, rather than adding anything meaningful to the story. It’s a shame that an actress of her calibre has been maligned to such an extent. Main Bond Girl Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swan gets more to do and she demonstrates time and time again that she’s strong willed. However, when it comes to action sequences she is constantly pushed to the side or protected by Bond. There is only one instance where she gets involved but it is all too brief.
Thankfully, Daniel Craig is on fine form in his 4th outing as Bond. Whilst the rumour mill will keep on churning, he offers a gritty performance here but still captures the cheeky sensibilities and great one liners that have made him hugely enjoyable to watch. Whilst Spectre doesn’t reach the heights of Casino Royale or Skyfall, it is immensely entertaining and if this is his last outing as Bond then it’s a hell of a way to go. There are issues with the plot – you know certain characters are going to turn out to be evil, a cryptic message comes out of leftfield, declarations of love feel slightly out of place and so on – but that doesn’t stop it from being huge fun.
Christoph Waltz is excellent a villain Oberhauser. Never physically imposing, he is a psychological threat to Bond and this makes him exciting to watch – even throughout a truly bizarre torture scene. The malice and enjoyment with which he reveals his plans to Bond in an old school way is fun and he has a great evil villain lair in the desert. A Bond film is only as good as its villain and Oberhauser is one of the best.
Spectre is by no means a perfect film. A car chase between Bond and Mr Hinx is dull and as mentioned, the female characters feel perfunctory; but it’s funny, filled with action, and reveals a lot that has been speculated since the title of the film emerged. More screen time for Ralph Fiennes’ M and Ben Whishaw’s Q is fantastic and breaks through some of the more serious moments of the film. Whereas in the older Bond films M, Q and indeed Moneypenny served their exposition purpose and a few funny moments and then weren’t seen again until the last 5 minutes, they are now put in the action with Bond and the film is richer for it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter