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REVIEW - SPECTRE

Updated: Jan 20



Director: Sam Mendes



SYNOPSIS

A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia, the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE. Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh, the new head of the Centre of National Security, questions Bond's actions and challenges the relevance of MI6 led by M. Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny and Q to help him seek out Madeleine Swann, the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White, who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of the assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot. As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks.



Firstly, I absolutely loved Skyfall, which I consider to be the best Bond film to date. I mean what else would this film be but beautiful. You have Sam Mendes behind the helm with Roger Deakins as DP. What more could you ask for from a technical standpoint. Yes folks, I consider Skyfall to be a visually brilliant movie. But I didn’t just love it for its breath-taking cinematography. Its set pieces, screenplay, and wonderful central performances from both Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and of course Dame Judi Dench, made Skyfall a tour de force of a Bond movie.

So I’ve now seen SPECTRE. It’s good but not great. It isn’t Skyfall and it’s not meant to be. It’s a film that not only honours and pays homage to the Bond anthology, borrowing themes from other spy films and at the same time doing a great job of remaining unique within the franchise.


It’s Daniel Craig’s 4th outing as the debonair, cold blooded spy and as ever, he portrays this character so effortlessly, it’s hard to see who else (if anyone, at this present time) can play this iconic character with such great dexterity. He’s excellent in this, even more so than Skyfall or his previous outings as Bond.

Superb support once again from Rory Kinnear as Tanner and Ben Whishaw as tech wiz Q. Naomi Harris as Moneypenny continues to carve out her character and has more of role to play. Ralph Fiennes gets in on the action and does a fine job as M, as does Dave Bautista as main henchman (finally) Mr Hinx.

Christoph Waltz continues to revel in his evil, yet charming and articulate villain routine and the presence of French actress Léa Seydoux not adds glamour but intelligence to the Bond girl role. A performance in my opinion that rivals Eva Green's multi layered performance in Casino Royale. Also let’s not forget Monica Bellucci whose screen presence is undeniable. Her involvement is short but necessary to the plot.


SPECTRE’s direction is as delicious as you would expect. Sam Mendes (working with Interstellar DP Hoyte Van Hoytema) accentuates the screen with wonderful shots of Tangier, Austria and Rome whilst capturing the films impressive set pieces (almost borrowing from Paul Greengrass) with aplomb. Thomas Newman does a tremendous job with his thrilling yet haunting score. The new Bond theme ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ has come under some heavy criticism, but I like it. I felt Sam Smith’s vocals soar throughout the cinema (surround sound helped). However, it lacks the strength and nostalgic touch of the Skyfall theme beautifully sung by Adele.

SPECTRE manages to entertain us in the just right places. Action is audacious as ever, with Bond chasing bad guys in a plane in the Austrian alps. There’s a slick car chase through the streets of Rome and an awesome fight scene on a train between Bond and Mr Hinx. Sound familiar? I know I love Connery vs. Shaw too, but this particular fight scene is just as good.



As entertaining as SPECTRE is, no film is without its faults and SPECTRE has quite a few.

Andrew Scott (Moriarty from Sherlock) is dreadful in this. His character Denbeigh (or C which is the letter he’s been designated, the butt of two great jokes) is the new intelligence expert, assigned the task to rid MI6 of 007 agents, eventually replacing them with drones to keep the peace around the world. Unfortunately, Scott does Denbeigh no favours by playing him as some sort of university graduate on his way to audition for The Apprentice. I didn’t believe in the character. His inclusion is not entirely unnecessary, but I felt less screen time perhaps may have made me appreciate the Denbeigh character.


SPECTRE drags itself through a ridiculous story line which has promise to begin but becomes ludicrous as the film progresses. And why again do we have to revisit previous Bond films (Craig era) to aid in SPECTRE’s exposition. Former Bond nemesis Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene and Silva are given a new lease of life. Why? To aid this convoluted story? This is my disappointment with regards to SPECTRE. It’s almost a tribute to Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond. It’s easy to say Mendes and Purvis ran out of ideas, but I think their intention was only to tie up loose ends within the franchise, namely Quantum of Solace. Along with Bond and M, who have been consistent fixtures since Casino Royale, the Mr White character (Jesper Christensen) has also been a mainstay in the franchise. His involvement in this film is short but potent.


Overall, SPECTRE entertains when the action is on show and is more of a mystery than a full on action thriller. Not to mention the hilarious one liners from both Bond and Q. Don’t think I’ve laughed this much at a Bond film since maybe, Live and Let Die (thank you Clifton James).

Blofield’s inclusion as a cyber-terrorist is a welcome one. Bautista’s Mr Hinx is a memorable henchman and Bond girls Harris, Seydoux and Bellucci continue to uphold the tradition of Bond girl. SPECTRE's narrative is a chore, making its pacing tedious, in particular it’s second act. However it makes up for this with its third act finale. Admittedly it isn’t as grand as say Skyfall’s or Quantum’s, but its good enough.





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