TL;DR – Not as good as Skyfall in any real respect, but much better than Quantum of Solace
Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars
If I had been reviewing Spectre right after Quantum of Solace I think I would have been much more favourable to it, simply because any Bond film has to be better than that mess. However, between now and then we’ve had Skyfall, which ditched all the story baggage they had been building upon for a standalone Bond adventure and it was a much better film. Alas Spectre decides you know what’s good let’s go back to all that lore we were building up ‘cause you know what people loved that. Ok look it is not that bad, there are some really great moments, there is just a lot of faff you have to get through as well.
Before we go on I do want to mention the good things about the film, because there are a lot of things that do really work. Firstly the locations are simply stunning, from the snowy peaks of Austria to the energy of Mexico City, to the electric Tangiers and oh yes London is in there too. Of course at some point I think we are just going to have to start taking it personally that he has yet to visit Australia, hell Ethan Hunt has visited us, but I have gone off on a tangent. Dave Bautista is simply amazing as Mr Hinx, he has a sense of presence and physicality about him that is unmatched. He is one of the best henchmen in the Bond series in a long time, maybe even the best since Jaws. It is also good to see them building on the common Bond icons introduced in Skyfall, it is great to see a film with Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw), Tanner (Rory Kinnear) and M (Ralph Fiennes) all working together. Oh and gadgets, it is so nice to have gadgets again, why they decided to ditch them in the first place is beyond me. The special effects and stunts are really good, there is an amazing car chase through the streets of Rome (but there was a couple of scene’s that were a bit too CGIy which is something that can really pull you out of the moment) and I am always a fan of a big boom. Also, this is a really funny film in places, it’s been a while since a Bond film has got a good laugh out of me.
Now we have had the good we must talk about the bad (well must is a strong word because we don’t have to, but like I will, because I can, so I shall), and the big bad in this film is its story. Since we are now going to talk about the story I am going to slap a big spoiler warning over the next paragraph. If you don’t want anything spoiled for you then jump to the next paragraph and just know that there are problems with the story. Ok, what is the main problem of the story, well, the main problem is that it is a bit of a mess. It tries too hard to wrap up every loose story thread from the last three films, whilst also doing a retcon job to try and make it all fit. Instead of just having Christoph Waltz smash onto the screen as the new big bad, we have to suffer through all this nonsense about how he has been always there lurking in the shadows. So the film never really stands on its own feet, it is constantly being dragged down by all the baggage of the previous films. And speaking of Waltz, I really love his work, but here I don’t know whether it was the script or the direction, but he just does not work as Blofeld which is really disappointing. Along the same line, Andrew Scott is just wasted as C in this film. For all the pre-release talk Monica Bellucci (Lucia Sciarra) is in the movie for all of maybe three minutes, she is there to give Bond a key piece of information, and then to sleep with Bond and then she is gone. This, of course, all happening on the day of her husband’s funeral, if it sounds tacky, that’s because it is. The other really big problem with this film is its ‘Have your cake and eat it too’ attitude on mass surveillance. Of all the movies to come out with spying is a bad subplot, a James Bond film is a weird choice. Also, it looks like the writers crib-noted the Edward Snowden leaks but didn’t really understand them. As well as this, the movie runs too long, especially its second act where things start to drag a bit, it really could have been tightened up quite a bit. Also, I don’t think they did enough work to justify the ending of the film.
Look I know I have been very negative of the film, and I do have to say that half the issue is that Skyfall showed us that we can do Bond well in the modern age without having to go full Bourne, Jason Bourne (see review) territory. There is a lot of good here, it is just disappointing that it is the structure of the film drags the rest of it down. Hopefully, the next film will escape all this faff and not shoe handle in references to past characters at the expense of everything else.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Sam Mendes
Story by – John Logan, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade
Screenplay by – John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & Jez Butterworth
Starring – Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Bellucci, Jesper Christensen, Rory Kinnear, Andrew Scott & Ralph Fiennes
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; Ireland: 12A; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13