James Bond: Spectre (2015)
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux
James Bond has been a long lasting icon of British cinema, bringing an unprecedented amount of glitz and glamour to audiences worldwide. Spectre, the twenty-fourth entry in the series, is no exception to this rule. In fact, the latest bond film is arguably the most ambitious and lavish production of the franchise.
Spectre is the direct sequel to 2012’s phenomenal Skyfall, following on with the tone of vengeance and betrayal that made Skyfall so brilliant. Spectre is a much darker and personal film than its predecessors, having more in common with the Timothy Dalton era rather than the camp going-ons of Roger Moore. Talking of the bond canon, Spectre is probably the closest to the original source material than any other Craig-era film, the globe-trotting grand story feels like something directly taken from one of Ian Fleming’s novels. Bond himself, feels slightly alien, weary of all the conflicts and haunted by those he could not save, the death of Vesper Lynd still haunting him.
The film starts with a bang by way of a fantastic cold opening in Mexico City, set amongst a Day of the Dead backdrop, the sweeping camera tracks bond along the streets as he passes men and women dressed as skeletons: the living meets the dead. We learn that Bond has taken an unauthorised excursion into Mexico and is there to kill a shadowy figure, whom we know little about. This opening has been met with critical acclaim with many comparing the extending takes to Touch of Evil. When Bond returns to MI6, he finds that the 00 programme is in jeopardy and due to be shut down on the orders of C (Andrew Scott), the new head of Government surveillance agency. C finds old-fashioned espionage to be a product of a bygone era and plans for MI6 to share its intelligence with a new international body, much to the dismay of M (Ralph Fiennes), who is disturbed by the idea that sensitive information could end up in the wrong hands.
Spectre is peppered with references to the previous Craig films, the nefarious Mr White (Jesper Christensen) makes an appearance, warning Bond that the world is not as it seems and there is much going on that he is not aware of, this is where SPECTRE enters the fray. SPECTRE is a network of super-criminals, an organisation of sex traffickers, corrupt officials and most of the world’s evils, and in charge of them, is the all-power Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), the all-seeing eye of the group. Waltz’s Oberhauser makes for terrific viewing, an intelligent villain that ranks along the likes of Anton Chigurh and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a great evil who is seemingly impossible to stop. Amongst the ranks of SPECTRE is the titan that is Mr Hinx as played by former wrestler Dave Bautista, Hinx is the brutal enforcer and is the physical equal 007. All of the sequences with Hinx are a joy to watch, it is shame that he does not appear in more scenes.
The production design and cinematography are top-notch, Spectre has an almost gothic feel to it, as reflected in the opening scene, and the style definitely feels reminiscent of the early Eon Bond films. Spectre is best enjoyed in a packed cinema where the gags and action really resonate with people, this is the sort of film that people will applaud in the aisles for, a realm triumph of modern cinema.
Spectre is not without its flaws however. The scope of the plot proves challenging; certain scenes feel long or unwarranted, several plot points are rather indulgent and do not flow as well as they could have done. The antagonistic SPECTRE does seem a bit far-fetched too, whereas Casino Royale felt smart and post-modern by doing away the camp trappings of the franchise, the return of SPECTRE seems a bit unrealistic for a modern-day Bond flick. Similarly, the new ‘Bond Girl’, Dr Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux) seems a bit underused, a waste of a talented performer.
Despite these minor flaws, Spectre is another winner for Bond fans. If Sam Mendes or Daniel Craig do not return for another film, then they have departed on a high not – if you can handle a slightly extended runtime then you’ll be in for a treat, spectacle on this scale really does deserve to be seen at the cinema!