Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes & Christoph Waltz
Synopsis: 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
Rating: 12A Run time: 148 minutes : 26 October (UK)
After 24 films, it is inevitable that audiences will become familiar with James Bond and the way his adventures play out. Predictable may sound like a bad word to use in a film review, but the Bond films generally are just that, and anyone who has watched even one will likely know how they all play out. With that, Spectre is a very predictable Bond film, but it remains a highly entertaining film and a very good Bond film in it own right.
The film opens in Mexico, with the Day of the Dead celebrations in full swing and Bond on a mission for reasons, so far, unknown. The opening sequence is as exhilarating an action scene you will see all year, and opens the film up perfectly. For a scene that must have been incredibly hard to film, full credit must go to everyone involved for making it look so effortlessly cool.
Carnage ensues in Mexico, and Bond is soon back in London and taking a grilling from M for what was an unsanctioned mission. Bond, not for the first time, is suspended from duty and put on gardening leave while M contends with uptight suit Max Denbigh, otherwise known as C, who is looking to close down the 00 program in favour of an all encompassing worldwide surveillance system.
Bond, doing as Bond does, further disobeys M’s orders and sets off on a one man mission, with some help from Q & Moneypenny, to finish what he started in Mexico. As always, Bond does what all good undercover agents do by telling beautiful women his name, getting into more fights than one man could normally manage and generally blowing shit up. In doing so, he comes across the nefarious organisation known as Spectre and soon realises that all his recent troubles have been at the hands of one man.
It’s revealed that Spectre have been acting in the shadows all along, and that the events of each film from Casino Royale up until Skyfall have been linked in one way or another. It’s not an altogether unbelievable turn of events, but does feel a little like Sam Mendes and the films writers were attempting to tie up any loose ends from the previous three films. This does feel a little unnecessary, and when looking back at things, it did seem that Skyfall had left 007 in the position to move into a new direction.
Not only that, but Spectre does seem to repeat some of the plot threads that played out in Skyfall. The 00 programme, and Bond in particular, are regarded as out of date and are about to be replaced by something very modern. While Ralph Fiennes’ M finds himself sticking up for the very thing he was trying to stop in Skyfall. With Skyfall promising a new beginning, it seems like a strange choice on the creators part to go back over elements that have already been dealt with.
This type of repetition brings a certain level of predictability to the film, and through that, Spectre lacks any real tension. Whereas Skyfall featured Javier Bardem’s fine villain taking his revenge on Bond and Judi Dench’s M, Spectre lacks a bad guy to really get the juices flowing. Andrew Scott’s C provides some smarmy charm and has some good scenes with M & 007, but is really just a cocky government worker with friends in high places. While the films big bad, Christoph Waltz, has barely any time to make a name for himself and seems relegated to the sidelines.
Without a bad guy cementing himself on proceedings, Spectre lacks any real threat level and will not have audiences fearing for the films cast in the way Skyfall did. Even so, Spectre does provide some outstanding set pieces that are up there with the series’ finest, meaning the audience will be enjoying themselves, even if they aren’t really caring. That’s not to be overly negative, but it’s hard to get the feeling that anything bad is going to happen to the characters during the films 148 minutes.
It is worth noting how spot on the humour is here. Daniel Craig has a very good sense of timing, and he carries the lighter moments in his stride and looks as comfortable pulling off a one-liner as he does punching someone’s face in. Spectre doesn’t go for Roger Moore levels of camp, but it does hark back to the Connery days without ever feeling like it’s simply mimicking them for cheap laughs from the audience.
Spectre leans toward Bond’s sillier days but, fortunately, never embraces them. Bond’s new car does have a few tricks up its sleeve, but it never, thank fuck, becomes invisible. While the sight gags are few and far between, but the use of a well placed sofa early on is very well done. Saying more may give away some of Spectre’s secrets, especially for anyone going in cold, but its nods to the older films are generally subtle without intruding on the viewing experience.
When the credits roll, we are informed that James Bond will return. Whether or not it will be Daniel Craig remains to be see, but it would be nice if he was given one more film. One last chance for the old dog before a younger model steps into his well worn shoes. And as good as Spectre is, one hopes that Craig can go out with an even bigger bang than this one and cement himself as one of the best Bond’s, if not the best.