License to Netflix and chill
Director: Sam Mendes. Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Christopher Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Dave Bautista. Genre: Spy action. Running Time: 148 minutes. Budget: $300 million. Rating: UK (12A), USA (PG-13)
2015 has been the year of the spy film. We’ve had January’s excellent Kingsman: The Secret Service, June’s surprise comedy hit Spy, July’s brilliant Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and August’s underrated 60’s thriller The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Now, the ultimate secret agent James Bond returns to rightfully take his place upon the espionage-movie throne.
The blonde Bond, Daniel Craig reprises his role as 007 for his fourth time in the 24th instalment of the franchise. Also returning is Sam Mendes whose direction on Skyfall led it to gross $1.1billion and be adored by critics and fans alike. After the gigantic success of the previous film as well as its director and leading man teaming up again, you might expect Spectre to share some similarities with its predecessor.
Well, Spectre is a very different shade of Bond than Skyfall – which was a dark and more emotional take on 007 that felt very relevant with the times. With Spectre, Mendes lightens things up considerably and draws upon many of the familiar elements of previous Bond flicks to create a very retro feel with a modern aesthetic.
Spectre has everything you would want from a James Bond film: globetrotting action, magnificent motors, exotic babes, classic lines and 007 kicking ass while looking exceptionally dapper.
It kicks off with an extraordinary opening scene in Mexico City, where the Day of the Dead festival is taking with thousands of people in attendance. After a hectic foot-chase through the crowded parade, Bond finds himself fighting thugs in a helicopter. This hair-raising aerial sequence is absolutely amazing and sets the standard for the rest of the film’s awe-inspiring action.
After the chaotic events in Mexico, Bond embarks on an mission spanning across many countries and with the reluctant help of Dr Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), he attempts to untangle a web of clues to reveal the true nature of the mysterious organisation SPECTRE and its shadowy leader Franz Oberhauser (Christopher Waltz).
Meanwhile M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) have to contend with C (Andrew Scott) who plans to enforce a worldwide surveillance organisation which would put them, and Bond, out of jobs.
Mendes and screenwriters John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth shroud the first half in intriguing mystery as Bond makes some startling discoveries – some which connect to the previous films and some which date back to his personal past.
Spectre is filled with some fantastic action with many of its finest moments coming from Bond’s duels with the intimidating Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista). There’s the adrenaline-racing night time car chase in the streets of Rome, a small plane/Land Rover chase through the snow drenched Austrian alps and a brutal train fight in Morocco.
The frenetic action is complemented by Phillip Newman’s tick-tocking score and masterfully captured by cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who produces spectre-aculiar visuals throughout the film.
As well as pulse-pounding entertainment, Spectre is injected with many comedic moments which will have you genuinely laughing. Whether it’s visual gags or dry witty one liners, Spectre is a fun ride which sets it apart from the recent, more serious Bond outings.
While the explosive action and well-timed comedy will firmly grab your attention, the storyline loosens the film’s grip slightly. Spectre loses some steam midway through as the plot struggles to maintain its momentum. Despite the misstep of Quantum of Solace, the best Craig entries of Bond – Casino Royale and Skyfall – both had engrossing storylines which makes Spectre’s hit-and-miss plotting feel somewhat of a step backwards.
Still, there’s plenty to keep you engaged including some impressive performances. Craig gives us another brilliant portrayal of Bond as he combines seasoned spy, effortless gentleman and steely tough-guy into one package. He’s more playful this time around but he still manages to give the secret agent a soul.
As Madelinne Swann, Seydoux is typically seductive and attractive like many of the other Bond girls before her but the French actress adds feisty attitude and convincing emotional depth which totally set her apart from the rest. Seydoux and Craig also share great chemistry which makes their character’s relationship great to watch.
Waltz enjoys himself as the villainous Franz Oberhauser, who has a very calm but equally sinister presence. He’s definitely good but not quite the memorable villain you’d expect after his Oscar award winning performance as the bad guy in Inglorious Basterds. To be fair, while the material he’s given is solid, it’s just not on the same level as that handed to him by Quentin Tarantino.
Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) oozes menace and threat as the Oberhauser’s henchman Mr Hinx but ends up becoming a throwaway character.
Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Andrew Scott all put in great supporting performances while Ben Whishaw’s Q steals almost every scene he’s in.
At 148 minutes, Spectre could have easily felt long – too long (see what I did there) but Mendes manages to keep things light and pacey enough so the time flies by. There’s tonnes of fun along with a great cast, which means the film is sure to entertain even if it doesn’t quite hit the heights of Skyfall. With many nods to some of the beloved Bond films and a big twist, Spectre feels like a love letter to old school 007. This means that hardcore Bond fans will probably love it, while more casual viewers will certainly like it. As I fall into the latter category, Spectre scores a:
1ish – 2ish Stay away at ALL costs!!!
3ish – 4ish A bad film, not Michael Jackson Bad, but just straight up bad
5ish – 6ish Probably worth seeing at some point
7ish – 8ish A fantastic film definitely worth watching whenever you can
9ish -10 Unmissable – go watch it now!!!
Check out the trailer here: