Review – SPECTRE (2015)
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: John Logan & Neal Purvis
Produced by: Daniel Craig & Barbara Broccoli
Starring: Daniel Craig, Cristoph Waltz & Dave Bautista
Release Date: October 26th 2015
In anticipation for No Time To Die finally getting released later this year, I recently decided to revisit SPECTRE for review. I actually had more fun re-watching this movie than I expected to and enjoyed it far more than when I first saw it back in 2015.
When Casino Royale released back in 2006, it was intended to be a soft reboot of the franchise that showed viewers the events of Bond’s first mission and it strived to rectify some of the silly gadgets etc that were being over-used with Brosnan’s Bond.
In my opinion, Casino Royale was a great film, it just wasn’t a Bond film. It did away with all of the silly gimmicks and cheesy one liners and was an introduction to a more grounded version of the iconic character, which made for a great spy thriller but not a great Bond movie.
Then Quantum of Solace came out and literally nobody cared, not many people went to see it, it didn’t make much money at the box office and to this day I’ve still not watched the entire movie from start to finish and to be honest, I’m perfectly okay with that.
Skyfall was the third Craig Bond movie to be released and it was a triumph. Finally Craig felt like he was actually playing Bond and not just some random hard ass military spy. It even flirted with the idea of gadgets, had a flamboyant supervillain and introduced a young, fresh faced Q, which was a nice touch.
The movie ended with Silva killing Judi Dench’s M and Bond killing Silva, Ralph Fiennes was then appointed with the title of M and Naomi Harris was revealed to be the new Moneypenny. So with the last movie pleasing both long time Bond fans and newcomers alike, SPECTRE had a lot to live up to.
SPECTRE opens with Bond in Mexico City, during the Day Of The Dead festival. Bond listens in on a meeting of two Mafioso and learns about a mysterious organisation hoping to achieve world domination and their illusive leader known as ‘The Pale King.’
He then blows up the building they are in and ends up in a chopper fight with one of the gangsters, whom he eventually kills. This leads into a stunning opening credits sequence, that really is one of the best I’ve seen, (even though the song is still crap.) This is an awesome intro and probably tops Skyfall’s intro which was also very cool.
The rest of the movie is a joy to a long time Bond fan like me. It checks off all of the boxes that make up a classic Bond movie. An awesome Aston Martin car chase – check. A big bad henchman who doesn’t say much but is very hard to kill – check. An effective use of gadgets and cheesy one liners – check. A super-villain that has an epic secret layer that he invites Bond to – check. Bond being strapped to an elaborate device in that secret layer and tortured – check.
Now all of this is fairly well executed, but the problem with it is that it throws any of the gritty realism shown in the last three movies right out of the window, which causes this movie to feel as if it is taking place in a separate universe from the last three.
This is something that bothered me at the time, but in hindsight I didn’t mind it. Revisiting the film, I was than happy to have a good old fashioned Bond movie back on our screens that isn’t afraid to shy away from the use of gadgets and witty quips. Also, SPECTRE is a movie that actually handles it well, unlike some of the naff late Brosnan movies.
On the other hand though, I can totally see why people had issues with this movie at the time of its release, especially if you aren’t a long time Bond fan and prefer Craig’s more realistic turn as Bond. If that is the case then SPECTRE probably isn’t ever going to be enjoyable for you.
Now, let’s forget for a minute that this is a 007 movie and just analyse it as a traditional piece of cinema. First off, I’m really glad that they brought Sam Mendes back to direct this one, he is very obviously a passionate Bond fan and I think he has done a great job with both Bond movies that he has made in the past.
The script in SPECTRE is also well written, providing the film’s dialogue with a witty and fast paced feel. The tone that the script creates ensures that the audience is kept intrigued, but are never lost as to what is going on. The cinematography in this movie is also great, besides a shaky cam chase sequence during the opening of the movie, I’d actually say that this is a masterfully shot movie.
Hoyte Van Hoytema was the principle of photography for this movie and that guy really likes his eye pleasing shots and his use of the rule of thirds, which is especially evident in the funeral scene where Monica Belluci is introduced. There are two Bond girls in this movie, Belluci only really being there for exposition, but Lea Seadoux did a great job with her more fleshed out role.
Now, I want to talk about the main villain in the movie, played by the incredible Christoph Waltz. During his screen-time in the movie, he steals every scene he appears in, however that leads me on to a problem I have with the movie. He is introduced near the beginning of the film, – within the first half hour, – then a good hour passes before he is reintroduced. Although what is going on during that subsequent hour is fairly entertaining, when you have already introduced a villain played by the master of playing villains that is Mr Waltz, it is hard not to wonder when he is going to reappear in the movie.
Something else I noticed during this re-watch, was how long the movie’s run-time feels. This is possibly due to the large number of different locales and although it is actually only a few more minutes longer than Skyfall, Skyfall didn’t feel as long and SPECTRE feels a lot longer. Also Mr Hinx is a pretty rubbish henchman in comparison with the iconic henchmen from the series’ past. He is as forgettable as Jaws and Oddjob were memorable and doesn’t even have a line until the last fight with Bond.
Overall I did enjoy re-watching SPECTRE for review way more that I thought I would and although this is a review based on my opinion, I still have to take into consideration the bigger picture and how other Bond fans felt upon seeing this film. Like I have previously said, I think fans of old-fashioned, more traditional Bond movies are generally more forgiving of this film’s flaws as it finally fulfils the criteria for it to be labelled a ‘proper’ Bond movie. On the other hand I can definitely respect the opinion of other people that were disappointed in the film as they likely went in expected another realistic spy thriller in the vein of Casino Royale.
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