James Bond is without a doubt my favourite franchise in film history, I’ve enjoyed it since I was a young boy. Like most Bond fans I have my preferences to certain Bonds and styles however I have loved every film since the 2006 reboot Casino Royale (and yes that does include Quantum of Solace). Although I have never reviewed a Bond film as I started my blog shortly after Skyfall was released. Spectre was without a doubt my most anticipated movie of the year (sorry Star Wars) so here goes.
Certain things are to be expected when it comes to Bond films; action, girls and villains. There are plenty of these in Spectre but let’s start with the action. There is a lot of impressive action featured in Daniel Craig’s 4th outing as 007 however I thought it was often spoilt by some other element of the film. For example, the stunning opening sequence set in Mexico City during The Day of the Dead Festival is unfortunately full of shaky cam which is so frustrating. As well as this Mendes has opted to include more Roger Moore esque humour in many of the action sequences which also took away from the more mature approach to the action sequences that the previous three films had taken. Finally at times large sections of the action was left unscored. With Thomas Newman returning to Bond after his fantastic work on Skyfall I was expecting great things but unfortunately instead of thrilling themes we are often just left with surrounding noises as an accompaniment. Also when Newman does provide some music it sounds suspiciously similar to Skyfall meaning that Spectre does fail to create its own sound. However, I really enjoyed how he intergrated Sam Smith’s, albeit weak, theme song ‘The Writing’s On The Wall’ into the film in an instrumental capacity. The instrumental moments of the theme are always fitting and lift the otherwise dull score. So whilst the action did encounter problems it was never really the fault of the action itself which admittedly is always fairly impressive and fans of action in general probably won’t have the issues I had.
The cast for Spectre is very impressive. Daniel Craig has proved himself as a fantastic Bond and in his most settled performance in the role to date is great as usual. His ladies are similarly impressive, Monica Belluci and Lea Seydoux are both beautiful women and important to the story line. I thought Belluci was underused but with a running time at already 150 minutes its understandable that her character isn’t explored more. Seydoux is brilliant from the get go and a worthy sidekick for Bond. For the first time in the Craig era all of the MI6 staff are in place. Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Rory Kinnear as Tanner all return adding to the strong list of characters supporting Bond from London. Andrew Scott is a newcomer this time and he performs well in his role. However the standout from London has to be Ralph Fiennes as the newly appointed M. Replacing Judi Dench was always going to be a mammoth task however as Fiennes did in Skyfall he proves again that he is worthy of the title as he excels in the role. Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx and Christoph Waltz as Frans Oberhauser are Bonds villains this time around. Bautista brings an old school presence to the film much like the henchmen of the past such as Oddjob or Jaws in a most successful way, excluding one silly moment. Christoph Waltz is expectantly brilliant too however I wish the script had given him more to do – I felt that there was much greater potential with his character and at times Waltz showed us his huge potential but it’s a shame that the film never really allows him to become the all out maniac that he is itching to become.
The other aspects of the film are pretty positive, I’ve already mentioned the 150 minute running time which breezes by thanks to the variety of locations and action. The film as you would expect has a lot of nods to past Bond films so the fans should really enjoy certain moments. The plot is something that will divide fans, I personally would have liked a bit more meat to it however after seeing the film twice it’s still enough to satisfy. The humour is cranked up a notch from previous Craig movies and mostly works. The jokes amongst the dialogue and the one liners are always amusing however it’s not so successfully intergrated into the action, as I’ve already mentioned. Probably the best aspect to the movie though is its wonderful costume design. This fantastic work is seen most obviously during the opening sequence in Mexico and I hope it gets the attention of the academy because it’s wholly deserved, this great work is continued though, as the entire film boasts quality in this area.
Spectre is a film that will easily be enjoyed by the masses at the cinema, it is full of all things Bond and is a harp back to the more classic entries in the franchise. More hardcore Bond fans will be critical and I think it will become a divisive outing for Bond. Overall though it’s a very good effort from director Sam Mendes and a strong Bond movie amongst all its predecessors. Like many predicted it’s not quite Skyfall, but nonetheless it builds on what has come before and it has paved the way for more adventures for 007.
Rating – 8/10