As I’ve said before, this has been a really good year for Spy movies, we’ve already had Spy, Kingsman, The Man From UNCLE and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and now it feels like the British film industry wanted to mic drop all of them with Spectre. Since Skyfall, the expectations for Spectre have been through the roof and there was no way Spectre could meet all of them and I was a bit disappointed by it, although that’s not to say that Spectre is a bad film, it’s just not as good as Skyfall or Casino Royale.
The plot this time focuses on Bond trying to carry out the last mission Judi Dench’s M left to him before he died, which brings him into contact with the organisation Spectre and its leader Frans Oberhauser, who has a connection to Bond from when Bond was a kid. Through this, Bond comes into contact with Madeline Swann, the daughter of Mr White from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, who helps lead Bond to the organisation. At the same time, M is dealing with a merger between MI5 and MI6 which has put civil servant Max Denbigh, who wants to shut down the 00 program and focus instead on a global surveillance network Nine Eyes. Watching the film, I got the sense that this should be Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, it feels like the culmination of all the elements from his other Bond films, bringing up Le Chifre, Quantum, Dominic Greene, Felix Leiter (which really made me want a cameo from Jeffrey Wright) and Vesper Lynd. Tying all the elements and villains from Craig’s previous films gives this a sense of finality to his tenure as Bond and I hope this is his last film. Granted, tying in the villains to Specrre doesn’t fully work, I kind of understand it for Le Chifre and Dominc Greene, as well as Quantum being a subsidiary of Spectre (even if it does detract from the importance of Quantum in Quantum of Solace) but it doesn’t really make sense for Silva, his whole thing was that he was independent and after M solely so tying him into Spectre removes a lot of the weight of his character. I also have to say that in bringing all these elements togerher, they’ve gone back to the classic Bond formula. From the gun barrel scene being at the start of the films again, it sets the stage for all the classic Bond tropes to appear, with references to classic Bond aplenty, although to go into full detail about this would be to spoil the film.
One of the thing a that works really well in the film is the exploration of the relevance of Bond in the modern age (something that was touched on in Skyfall) and contrasting it to the modern age of surveillance. It’s made clear from the start that Nine Eyes is a severe invasion of privacy and is playing right into the hands of terrorist organisations, showing that if these organisations can access the information, no court would be safe anymore (something which our government would be best off learning). The film shows that, even though I can be more dangerous, it’s better to have agents in the fields because of the human factor and the morality that machines lack with the fm teaching Bond to be more careful and not to kill indiscriminately with this making Bond a better man throughout the film.
This is reinforced by the acting, with Daniel Craig on top form as Bond. Throughout his tenure, Craig has given Bond this real sense of vulnerability that makes you relate to Bond on a deeper level whilst also showing the ruthless nature of Bond really well. Here, Craig shows how his ruthless nature is so dangerous to the people around him which adds a great new dimension to the character of Bond. He also does a good job showing Bonds obsession with finding Spectre and how this is causing immense psychological damage to Bond. This side also shows the importance of Madeline Swann, brilliantly played by Lea Seydoux. Seydoux shows Swann to be an intellectual and physical match for Bond, along with being a great healing presence for the character. This is helped by Craig and Seydoux having great on screen chemistry with each other’s, the best Craig has had with one of the women in Bind since Eva Green in Casino Royale. Unfortunately, the ending really harms the character, removing a lot of the strength we saw in her throughout the majority of the film and her being a love interest dies actually harm the Bond character because of the constant references to Vesper Lynd. Ben Whishaw meanwhile is proving himself to be the MVP of the Bond series now. With his Q having all of the best lines I the film, aided y a great dry wit Whishaw brings to the role making his scenes with Craig the funniest in the film. Christoph Waltz as Obsehauser meanwhile is exactly what you think of when you hear Christoph Waltz as a Bond villain and he’s very entertaining in the role, although I predicted a major part of his character from the first trailer which did detract from what was meant to be a pivotal scene in my opinion. Ralph Fiennes makes for a great replacement for Judi Dench as M. Showing a great no nonsense attitude toward Bind, along with being a more active presence in the plot, brilliant showing both his frustration and respect for Bond. This is matched by a brilliantly slimy performance from Andrew Scott) although taking more about him would spoil the film, and a reliably deadpan performance from the always under-utilised in these films Rory Kinnear. Dave Bautista meanwhile makes for a great, intimidating presence as Mr Hinx, his silent, imposing nature putting humus there with Jaws and Oddjob in terms of memorable henchmen.
One area where the cast does not get reated well is with the women. I’ve already talked about how Seydoux has her character underwritten I the last 10 minutes but the others see this lack of respect thought the film. after making such a strong inpression, giving Moneypenny a more active role in Skyfall, Naomie Harris is given a much more passive role here, which feels like a big step back for the character. Monica Beluci meanwhile is completely wasted, her role essentially being an expository extended cameo where she has sexy with Bond and then doesn’t show up for the rest of the film. This feels like a big step back for Bond after the previous films gave them a much more active role.
The technical side of the dim teaming as strong as it was in Skyfall, with a few exceptions. Sam Mended continues to do a great job I the directors chai, making good use of practical effects and on-location shooting, in particular a brilliant one take shot through Mexico City on the Day of the Dead. The action scenes are still well directed, with the car chase through Rome being an action highlight. The cinematography by Hoyte van Hoytema is strong, although it lacks the sheen that Roger Deakins brought to Skyfall. The music by Thomas Newman continues to be strong, being used at the right points and the lack of music in some scenes was a great call. Speaking of the music, this films theme, Writing’s On The Wall by Sam Smith I feel is well orchestrated but Smith was the wrong choice to sing it. his voice just doesn’t have the power that is needed for a Bond theme (I also have to say that the visuals I the title sequences are the most weirdly perverted I’ve seen in a Bond film, if you’ve seen it you low what I mean).
Overall, despite its flaws Spectre is still a good film. It’s entertaining, Craig is still an amazing Bond, the direction is great, the action scenes are fun and it has that classic Bond charm to it. I just wish the female characters were written better and the plot wasn’t as predictable as it ended up being. It just didn’t quite have the same impact that Casino Royale and Skyfall had.
My Rating: 3.5/5