Spectre (2015) Review:

Director: Sam Mendes

Runtime: 148 minutes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, et al…

Plot (taken from IMDb): A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.


Spectre image one

After the incredible Skyfall I was worried that Bond wouldn’t come back as strong. I was correct to have those worries; Spectre is a mish-mash of a movie that never knows what it wants to be. One part classic Bond, one part Casino Royale, Spectre comes across as confused, despite containing some very entertaining scenes.

The movie opens strongly, in Mexico. During day of the dead celebrations, Bond is tasked with taking out a target. Obviously, it all goes a little wrong, but Craig’s Bond looks cool whilst doing it. With explosions, lots of civilians at risk, crumbling buildings and a fight in a helicopter, the opening of the movie has it all. Shame the rest of the film doesn’t.

Spectre feels disjointed. The plot is reminiscent of Skyfall, but its direction is different. Gone are the gothic, atmospheric scenes, with over-the-top action sequences in their place. I have no issue with the set-pieces per se, but they feel a little out of place for Craig’s Bond. Skyfall re-introduced the sillier moments back into the Bond formula, after Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale sucked the fun out of the franchise. Skyfall, however, used a good mixture of the dark Bond of today and the goofy Bond of the past.

spectre image two

Spectre ramped up the cheese, but didn’t dial down the brooding. There are very dark moments, mixed in with the ludicrous and it just doesn’t gel. There were moments in the film that I loved, from both the dark and the ludicrous, but as a whole, Spectre just wasn’t directed well. There were so many moments that fell flat.

We have a ridiculous hard man (Dave Bautista), who randomly shows up every now and then to fight Bond in uneventful battles of just brawn, adding nothing to the film in terms of plot or spectacle. There is a car chase in Spectre, but it is severely disappointing. It lasts a while, but Bond never feels in danger; it was a little boring. But the worst part of the film? Christoph Waltz.

spectre image three

Waltz plays Blofeld, the author of all of Bond’s pain. He is touted as being a criminal mastermind, but he never comes across as particularly menacing, or much of a match for Bond. Bond’s villains are usually very strong, almost making the movies what they are. It felt like Mendes liked the villain of Skyfall too much and wanted to use him again. It didn’t work unfortunately. Outside of the villains, however, the rest of the cast is excellent.

Daniel Craig still carries Bond well, despite his mumbling. He has a good screen presence, stealing most of the scenes he is in. Léa Seydoux is wonderful as the Bond girl (as is Monica Belluci), Ralph Fiennes is fantastic as ever, but my star of the show is Ben Whishaw. Q is given more screen-time this time around, and Whishaw plays a very good Q. He is nerdy, yes, but very, very smart. I appreciated that a character like Q played a more important part in the plot.

Cinematography, too, is very good. You’d expect no less from the same team behind Skyfall, despite lacking the gothic visuals of Skyfall. I think, in general, that Spectre is stuck in Skyfall’s shadow. It tries to match that film in terms of performances, set-pieces and tone, but falls short of the mark in every area. With plenty of fun in the movie, it’s not a bad film, but Spectre left me disappointed. It’s disjointed in tone, direction and acting. It’s a shame really.

Summary:

Skyfall was always going to be a hard film to follow on from, but Spectre felt flat in comparison. It’s a fun film at times, but there are too many inconsistencies in its tone, characters, direction and acting. I appreciated some aspects of the film, like the sets, most of the acting and the cinematography, but for the most part, Spectre isn’t really anything worth writing home about.

2.5/5

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