Spectre (d. Sam Mendes UK/USA 2015) – A Film Review

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.

Entertainment: starfish starfish starfish starfish

Performances: starfish starfish  

Predictability: starfish starfish 

Technical: starfish starfish 

A bit of history… James Bond is one of the UK’s biggest icons. Prior to Spectre there have been 23 films, 25 if you count Casino Royale (d. Ken HughesJohn HustonJoseph McGrathRobert ParrishRichard Talmadge UK/USA 1967)and Never Say Never Again (d. Irvin Kershner UK/USA/West Germany 1983) (considered as not part of the main franchise as they were not produced by Eon Productions). James Bond has defined a genre and created a franchise that like Gojira, Zatoichi and Tarzan has verged into self parody. So attempting to reinvent Bond, Casino Royale (d. Martin Campbell UK/Czech Republic/USA/Germany/Bahamas 2006) claimed a back to basics/source material Bond. Let’s start fresh. Why is Bond, Bond? Essentially. This actually gave Casino Royale (2006) a very interesting premise. Quantum of Solace  (d. Marc Forster UK/USA 2008) seemed to miss its mark but Skyfall (d. Sam Mendes UK/USA 2012) helped to reestablish everything we know and love about classic Bond. Who’s M? Who’s Q? Who’s Moneypenny? This return to Classic Bond gave us a decent set up and took us back to the original Bond of Dr. No (d. Terence Young UK 1962) or Goldfinger (d. Guy Hamilton UK/USA 1964). Similarly, we are reintroduced to SPECTRE. Clue is in the title. In the first 7 bond films you see the introduction of the super-villains of the Bond world. These villains are now some of the most iconic antagonists out there. Some of these characters are major players in parody films like Austin Powers (d. Jay Roach USA/Germany 1997, 1999 and 2002). In fact, the shadow villain, bold and stroking a cat is almost as big as the Bond character himself. This character, James Bond’s nemesis, was the head of SPECTRE. So for some there’s a lot of pressure on this film, for others, just what Casino RoyaleQuantum of Solace and Skyfall had already established. So how does it fair?

If you had seen the some of the Daniel Craig‘s other Bond films, particularly Skyfall you can know what to expect from the cast. Their performances are good and keep you interested in the main plot. Daniel Craig, whether a good Bond or not, gives his take on James Bond that you would expect by now. If not then the supporting cast do well and some scenes do stick out as holding a decent amount of depth. Daniel Craig gives a good performance and you can see the effort he puts into the scenes helping Bond to appear pushed to his limits. However, he doesn’t quite carry the James Bond charm which, to be fair, may be seen as the cheese in previous films and therefore this could be deliberate. Interestingly, they do make a good twist with the James Bond girl in the film which offers something very refreshing – if kept to. The story is a bit of a rehash of earlier Bond films like License to Kill (d. John Glen UK/Mexico/USA 1989) and though it is entertaining enough, there isn’t a freshness or power to it. Another problem is that some of the things established are abandoned in the film, which is rather disappointing. This brings us to the next point that we’ll look at in depth but a quick mention to the Special Effects and Cinematography – they were just okay. Some decent scenes and set ups and it’s convincing enough but nothing special.

Now this is a film that has a decent amount of build up considering reputation and/or previous films. In fact the film does well to remind us that the previous films existed as a build up to this one. Key point being the villains. SPECTRE was a powerful challenge to James Bond and a powerful entity within the Bond universe and Blofeld the head of Spectre a Joker to James Bond’s Batman. Christoph Waltz gave a decent enough performance but falls short of anything powerful or menacing. This isn’t a physical thing, he just never seems to offer Bond a decent challenge. A torture sequence doesn’t seem to lead anywhere and moments where SPECTRE is established as an organisation also doesn’t go anywhere. There could have been much more and SPECTRE could have done more and been bigger. SPOILER: It would have helped a lot if SPECTRE continued into other films which may happen but Blofeld’s involvement was too much too soon. Also, the childhood connection James Bond and Blofelt have in this film is something out of Austin Powers and not James Bond – oh dear. END OF SPOILERs. Disappointing to say the least.

Now all this in mind, the film was entertaining and I can easily recommend it as a film to enjoy for it’s 148minute time length. However, you do come away feeling like something was missed. Maybe the next Bond will sort out these problems and it’s just that recent James Bond is following a classic Star Trek formula for alternating between good and bad film. It’s unfortunate and we can only hope, wait and see.

Synopsis

James Bond goes rogue against M as he attempts to undercover a secret organisation that is responsible for everything that has happened so far and also for abuse of power being built up politically. 

Further Reading

rottentomatoes.com

metacritic.com

Official Site

Interview with Daniel Craig

Interview with Christoph Waltz

Interview with Sam Mendes

007.com

25 things you probably didn’t know about Bond

50 years of James Bond

Homer Vs Bond

Why Don’t You Just Kill Him?

50 No’s and a Yes

Spy Academy

James Bond in Japan

Some Bond Moments



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