Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Michael G. Wilson. Barbara Broccoli
Starring: Daniel Craig. Christoph Waltz. Léa Seydoux. Ben Whishaw. Naomie Harris. Dave Bautista. Monica Bellucci. Ralph Fiennes.
Running Time: 148 minutes.
So after the dust settles from the dramatically successful Skyfall Sam Mendes appeared to have given the Bond reboot a firm standing and new direction for this national treasure of the franchise. If Skyfall was a changing of the guard then this is their first charge into battle against the fierce and razor sharp expectations of the fevered and action hungry public. As the 5th most expensive film ever made Mendes seems to be a glutton for punishment, and luckily for him at the feast of media expectations the table is always full. Another heaped scoop of meaning is carefully balanced on top as this may be Daniel Craig’s last outing and he has freely voiced his disgruntlement on the role and the whole Bond-ing experience (i’m sorry).
The introduction in mexico is simply brilliant and even myself who didn’t enjoy a lot of Skyfall felt a fresh surge of that sweet enthusiasm and hope sweep through my cinema starved veins. The cinematography is dramatic and sweeping, the music and action form a swelling duet of promise in a well structured set piece with thousands of extras utilised and then digitally multiplied for a frankly rousing initial set piece. Daniel Craig swaggers through the fray creating and then quickly shrugging off fresh havoc. This is Bond back to a thrill an old generation and introduce a new set of hearts and minds to it’s magic. Sadly the spell it weaves is short lived and after the title screen and Sam Smith being slowly fed into a wood chipper it’s a different story.
The 24th installment of Bond and yet fourth in the new era sees Bond jet setting around the world in the search of a sinister organistaion that is a larger part of his life than he first realises. This is a frankly stellar cast from the villain of Christopher waltz to the back up team of Naomie Harris and the oldest Bond girl Monica Bellucci which although lauded for being open minded and new thinking is realistically just 3 minutes of her and cleavage being used as an initial plot point which is a shame considering her considerable acting talent. With Casino Royale and the start of Skyfall we were given hope of a new more visceral and grounded Bond. A bloodied and fragile Bond where the stories were smaller and more intimate and the feeling more gritty and less camp and tongue in cheek.
Sadly Spectre is a homage unto itself with more style over substance than a Ferrari attempt at a family car. The story is meant to be ambitious and complex but is as frantic and aimless as an octopus having a seizure, it’s hard to focus and even care as entitled and well tailored playboys fight on a altar of beautiful women and cars with grand and generally vague sinister plots thrown out like drunken threats at the Christmas Party. Bond scurries from one scenic location to the next exotic stage to have drawling dialogue and minor scuffles, it felt less like an exciting a bond film and just made me want to play Uncharted again.
The film cant decide whether it’s aim is to terrorize the world or just haunt Bond’s life and so hedges it’s bets and does both thereby actually sharing focus and diluting the effects of both and either. This is meant to be the culmination of the last three films and the effects are incredibly underwhelming and the attempt for a Moriarty effect is rushed through and lazy with no horror or grandeur but instead hollow chiq and cliches that feed off old and weary Bond sterotypes that make it seem like a empty cash in on the Bond name instead of a brave re imagining we hoped for.
The script is mostly horrendously cringe worthy and very credible actors such as Whishaw and Craig seem like preening members of a big boys club, and while that may have seemed tongue in cheek and fun in the past in this new era and even with recessions abounding it just seems like irritating toffs trading painful, posh jibes. For these things to work you need commitment and heart and this film has neither, instead it’s a lifeless, bland Bond by numbers.
Dave Bautista is the silent henchman and the one fantastic scene is a brutal and tense train fight which is original, well choreographed and shocking in it’s glimpses of Bond’s frailties and well as strengths and then ends with a agonisingly cheap attempt at cheesey humour that is laboured and disappointing for the film’s most solid sequence after the intro. The plane chase is absurd and drawn out, making no sense and a frustrating reminder as to what we thought we were moving on from.
Andrew Scott is very understated and underused with his plotline potentially fresh and relevant with the ’00’ programme fending off attacks from within but for a film this length it’s skirted over and ends up just being an excuse to bring the alleged ‘story’ and Bond back to London and the gang. Harris and Kinnear are basically props, Whishaw who is an outstanding coup for this franchise is a glorified google search and rendered annoying by the ink dripping they pass as a script. Waltz and his villain’s name is thrown to the winds of uncreativity and frankly wasted. Ralph Fiennes however is glorious and attempts to put his head down and barrage his way through the limitations of this film with the momentum of his pure talent. I want more of him in action and i’m sure i’m not alone.
The movie is mostly unoffensive but as the scenes click by with the hollow inactivity of an empty pistol the scenes drag on and any vague incident is usually tinged in disappointment. There’s plenty happening in Spectre but it’s a blur of vague motions, a lot going on but i don’t care about any of it. A detatched and uninvoled car chase, a distant and speedy gunfight, a passionless revealing monologue and a boring, rushed and easily resolved ‘torture’ scene. If an alien arrived on Earth and you vaguely described bond films to them and asked them to make it, Spectre would be the film, all of the ingredients but none of the understanding and heart.
This is a dressed up and empty trollop of a film with the sheen of style covering up the aged cracks of a tired and overworked series. It’s painful to watch an unevolving, beloved franchise wallow in it’s own money spinning safety by not daring to be bold and deserve the affection the fans crave to give it.
2.5/5: Bond has his license to kill, but his license to entertain may have expired.