Director: Sam Mendes
Staring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista
Running Time: 2hours 30mins
Release Date: October 26th 2015
Sam Mendes has taken on the Bond franchise with full force and back in 2012 he gave us SKYFALL, arguably one of the very best Bond films ever to grace the silver screen. With the well deserved praise comes the high expectations as Mendes and Daniel Craig return for Spectre, their second Bond film together. So much happened when we last saw Bond and the aftermath of the Skyfall destruction still weighs heavily on everybody’s minds. With M finding himself conflicted with the pressures of the politics of the secret service, Bond finds himself falling under the radar to delve into secrets on modern terrorism that quickly mix with those from his past.
Sending himself on a physical and mental mission of discovery, Bond must route through the dark corners of his past and connect the dots between what he’s done, what’s happened to him and how they all connect with the devastating mystery that surrounds the Spectre organisation.
The opening sequence, set during Mexico’s Day Of The Dead, is without a doubt one of the very best in Bond history, and a new personal favorite. The entire scene is so wonderfully busy, deliciously Gothic and crammed with spectacular costume, makeup and props. It’s an ideal introduction to Craig’s next Bond chapter as he makes his way through the crowds of incredibly dressed, beautiful people. The cinematography in this scene alone is outstanding, with Bond stealthily snaking his way along the narrow roof tops of Mexico City; with a score from Thomas Newman marrying so beautifully with the stunning aesthetic.
There’s no denying that all the car chases, explosions and actions sequences makes for a high-octane Bond flick but it simply doesn’t make up for the weak, if not predictable, center narrative. It wasn’t difficult to clock the twist behind Bond and Blofeld’s past relationship early on within the narrative and therefore it didn’t pack the kind of hard hitting punch it had intended. It also felt a little weak in imagination, safe and even a little cliche; not something expected from such an outstanding writing team including John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth.
The high-light of the film has to be the utterly enigmatic yet completely chilling performance from Christoph Waltz. There’s such measured madness to his character and it makes him utterly terrifying. Here we have such a calculated, patient and twisted villain to get to grips with and it’s truly fantastic to watch. We’re introduced to Blofeld with immediate intimidation in mind, his dark figure haunting the screen in silhouette fashion as a room full of important people cower at his presence. He’s a brilliant character and it’s disappointing that he doesn’t get more screen time, even if the time he does have is a joy to watch. Waltz really does play this character so brilliantly and is really the only thing that saves the narrative from being a complete mess.
Also getting screen time is our two new Bond girls, Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux. There’s still much to be desired from the representation of women in Bond films, even if Moneypenny’s Naomie Harris gave a boost in strong female characters in SKYFALL. Monica Bellucci gets minuscule screen time, much of it involving being seduced by Bond, and her character leaves little to be desired; making her presence feel totally wasted.
Léa Seydoux gives a wonderful performance with what she’s provided with, her presence both delicate yet feisty and she actually becomes a great match for Bond; even if she can’t quite resist his charms. While the relationship development between them does feel a little rushed and therefore perhaps over dramatic by the end, our love for Bond and desperate want for his happiness allows for the forgiveness for such flaws.
Our faithful gang of behind the scene spies, Moneypenny, Q (Ben Whishaw) and M (Ralph Fiennes), get their own separate, interweaving narrative as they come up against Andrew Scott‘s C, as he attempts to dismantle their organisation all together. These scenes are pleasant enough as Whishaw in particular delivers some wonderful comedic relief throughout much of the narrative, giving a little boost to the otherwise often clunky dialogue.
It was always going to be a difficult job for Mendes to match the incredibly high standards he delivered with SKYFALL and there’s no denying that he’s created a brilliantly entertaining film in SPECTRE. However, it lacks the emotional intelligence and influence that SKYFALL conjured up and it the main narrative feels a little sloppy, weak and gives way for more action and cool stunts. Depending on the viewing, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it still makes for a tense, thrilling watch but for those wanting the sophistication of Mendes’ previous Bond’s, SPECTRE just doesn’t quite cut it.