SPECTRE is a thrilling and immensely enjoyable instalment to the Bond franchise
Following the brilliant SKYFALL, I had high expectations for Sam Mendes’ latest Bond outing SPECTRE. Thankfully, it delivers.
SPECTRE is the 24th movie in the Bond franchise and the second Bond film to be directed by Sam Mendes. The plot follows on from SKYFALL with MI6 being forcibly merged into a New World Order of global snooping, spearheaded by Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott). As M (Ralph Fiennes) attempts to battle political forces to keep the secret service alive, a cryptic message from Bond’s past sends 007 (Daniel Craig) on a trail to uncover a sinister organization called SPECTRE. But as Bond begins to peel back the layers of deceit, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks.
Smart, stylish and incredibly thrilling, SPECTRE may not quite be the equal to SKYFALL but it still is bang on target. From the terrific pre-credit sequence in Mexico City to the hard-hitting conclusion in London, SPECTRE is full of spectacular stunts, intrigue, twists and turns to keep you guessing and entertained. The gritty, thriller aspects of CASINO ROYALE and SKYFALL are carried through to produce a full-on action spectacle with beautifully orchestrated stunts and stunning cinematography.
In terms of production values, score, direction and performances, SPECTRE equals that of SKYFALL. The action scenes are breathtaking and shot with class. The pre-credit sequence where Bond and his companion walk through the ‘Day of the Dead’ festival is filmed as one long tracking shot and is the most beautiful and complex sequence of the franchise so far. Add to this some stunning special effects and action sequences, notably the jaw-dropping helicopter sequence and the stunning high speed car chase between the Aston Martin DB10 and Jaguar CX75 through streets of Rome, and you have a Bond hit that is richly entertaining.
In terms of script, SPECTRE strikes a contemporary political tone in its opposition to excessive surveillance. The humour is back (a drunken conversation providing the funniest moment in the film) as are the gadgets. Like SKYFALL which paid homage to the Bond films of yesteryear, SPECTRE is also full of references to earlier Bond films. The opening sequence in Mexico City (LIVE AND LET DIE), the clinic on Austrian mountaintop (ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE), the train fight sequence (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) and the climatic game-style ending (MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN) are sure to please the loyal Bond fans without detracting from the plot.
Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in his fourth outing as 007. As with his previous performances, Craig’s dark, complex and masterful performance is at its best with the actor playing Bond with just the right amount of emotion and pride. If this is really farewell to Craig’s run as Bond, he couldn’t have asked for a better outing.
Christoph Waltz is insanely brilliant as the villain Franz Oberhauser, whose shadowy silhouette is intensely menacing. With his European tongue and playful threatening manner, Waltz is an old-school Bond villain, even down to his brutal and ruthless Jaws-like henchman, played by Dave Bautista.
Italian actress Monica Bellucci (who looks stunning at 50) plays enigmatic widow Lucia Sciarra and while her time on screen is minimal, she steals the scene alongside Craig. French actress Léa Seydoux is equally good as Bond’s new love interest, Madeleine Swann.
Naomie Harris returns as Moneypenny, as does Ben Whishaw as Q and Ralph Fiennes as M. Andrew Scott also proves himself a worthy addition to the cast as Max Denbigh aka “C” (pun intended).
While there is much to love about SPECTRE, the film doesn’t quite pack the psychological punch of SKYFALL. After the dismal QUANTUM OF SOLACE (my least favourite Bond film of the Craig era) SKYFALL was a masterpiece and consequently, SPECTRE has a lot to match up too. The narrative is smart, bold and clever (linking together the previous outings in CASINO ROYALE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE and SKYFALL) but doesn’t quite boast the political urgency or the deeper personal strings that made SKYFALL unique. I was also disappointed with opening title sequence – it was a little too cheesy for me (that’ll be the dancing octopuses) and didn’t quite have the sharp, stylish and super slick edge of the opening titles in CASINO ROYALE or SKYFALL.
That said, SPECTRE is a damn good Bond film that is well worth a watch whether you’re a 007 newcomer or a loyal Bond fan. A thrilling and immensely enjoyable instalment to the most successful franchise in cinema history.
SPECTRE is released in UK cinemas on 26 October 2015.