After I saw this film, I came out of the cinema with the most mixed feelings I’ve had about a film in a long time. I wanted to love it, I really did, but for all the high points there are flaws which I think will be detrimental to Spectre’s legacy and lasting appeal. The film feels like the other three Daniel Craig Bond films mixed into one. The tension of Casino Royale with the exhilarating action of Skyfall. Sounds great, right? It is great, until one begins to see that some of the problems present in Quantum of Solace begin to appear once again in this film.
The opening sequence is excellent. Without spoiling anything, the audience is treated to a cinematic masterclass in editing and visuals. The Sam Smith theme song is forgettable, and doesn’t really suit the intro to a Bond film. After 45 minutes, Quantum of Solace-like plot problems start to appear. The initial plot setup is messy. Motivations behind certain actions are unclear or questionable. Scene after scene moves forward with little to no setup, until a mesh of different minor plot points are established. The plot forces itself along for the second half.
The action was largely unmemorable, unfortunately. We get a fantastic hand-to-hand fight between Bond and the Jaws-like Hinx, and the race through the old MI6 building was thrilling and intense. However the car chase was possibly the dullest car chase I’ve ever seen. It’s literally just Bond driving around Rome in an Aston Martin prototype while an equally as expensive supercar tails him.
Craig is still on top form as Bond. It’s obvious from interviews that he’s bored of it and wants to do something else, but this isn’t apparent in the movie. He’s still the suave yet aged spy out to save the world. As the villains, both Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista are underused. Christoph Waltz is brilliant for the time we get to see him but he is hardly in the film and the secrets about his character have been so badly hidden it is painfully obvious from the get-go which is also frustrating.
Monica Bellucci is spectacular. She oozes sexual tension and her and Craig shared a fantastic chemistry between them. Unfortunately she only features for about five minutes near the beginning and is never seen again, marking her claim as the oldest Bond girl a bit of a let down; she’s severely under-utilised. Instead we get Lea Seydoux as Madeline Swann for the bulk of the movie, despite only being introduced halfway through. She’s very much the more typical Bond girl; young and curvaceous with an independent streak that defies Bond’s charms for all of about two minutes before falling head-over-heels in love with him. Could’ve worked if she and Craig had any chemistry at all. No matter how much they wanted her to be; she was no Vesper.
Generally, the early positivity surrounding this film has been about how it encapsulates classic Bond. Yet in the vintage era of Sean Connery when there wasn’t hundreds of millions to throw at dazzling action sequences, it was imperative to build an atmosphere through dialogue, score, and character. It felt at time with the women, the rolling back of famous lines and the return of the classic criminal organisation of Spectre, that they were definitely going for that aim but they ultimately fell short amidst the collage of frantically thrown together explosions and mindless chases. I do say mindless yet I must note that the scenes alone were fabulously choreographed and patched together, representing easily some of the most eye catching moments ever in Bond folklore. But that’s not the point I was making.
Spectre is a tense and entertaining blockbuster that’s certainly not one of the more memorable or important Bond outings. Better than Quantum of Solace but worse than Casino Royale and Skyfall. I hope (no I pray – and I’m not religious) that the next Bond brings us back on the track set by Casino Royale.
Spectre gets a 7.1/10.