Review – SPECTRE
24 films, 53 years. Mr Bond is a part of the British furniture now, with a legacy spanning generations. You know the name, you know the number, and you know his MO- so it’s a testament to the series that it is still kicking (and looking as suave as ever) decades down the line. And SPECTRE is no misstep- in fact it’s easily one of the best Bond films there’s been. The action, the excitement, the effortless cool, the Bond girls, the guns and gadgets, the exotic locations, all the trademark Bond calling cards- they’re all present and correct.
Daniel Craig has been constantly pressed during the SPECTRE press tour to answer whether he’ll be back for another Bond film after this- I’ll leave you to look up the sort of stuff he’s been saying, but it’s certainly vivid- and on the evidence of SPECTRE, I hope he stays for at least another film for sure. He looks more comfortable in the role of Bond here than he ever has, oozing all of the hallmarks that make Bond, Bond- and looking completely confident in how does it. Equally as comfortable shooting a gun as he is having a chat with a drink in his hand, there surely won’t be many who still dislike Craig’s Bond after this. He brings the hard-edged reality that the Craig era has come to be defined by since Casino Royale’s post-Bourne Identity Bond revitalisation, but with the similarly Craig trademark vulnerability and also, a lot more humour. In SPECTRE Bond is outright having fun at points, which is welcome after Skyfall’s “resetting the clock” so to speak, in going back to classic Bond style.
The whole cast and crew are arguably some of the most talented to ever grace the Bond franchise. The Skyfall gang at MI6 are back, with Ralph Fiennes M, Naomi Harris’ Moneypenny and Ben Whishaws’ Q all settled in and having a lot more to do this time around. Whishaw especially gets some fantastic scenes, and when the three of them are together they’re perfect. Lea Seydoux exhilarates as Madeleine Swann, the doctor daughter of an old enemy who Bond must protect to help unravel the mystery, and Monica Belucci (finally in a Bond film, long overdue) excites in her, disappointingly brief, appearance as a widow in Rome, whom Bond must gain information from. Belucci and Craig have chemistry that positively sparks with electricity, and Seydoux and Craig are a fantastic- and equally capable- pairing, who also have terrific chemistry and hordes of great scenes together. Seydoux’s Swann doesn’t need Bond to help her, she is more than capable herself, and she gets plenty of chances to show just how capable she is with her intelligence and with a gun. And on the antagonistic side of things, Andrew Scott’s character Denbigh is a new power figure in British intelligence, and butts heads brilliantly with M throughout the film, while Dave Bautista is brutally fast, violent and more than capable of using wit in his actions as JAWS-like henchman Mr Hinx. And then there’s Christoph Waltz’ Oberhauser, the head of the titular SPECTRE. He is easily one of the most memorable Bond villains there has been, and it’s easy to see why Waltz is a two-time Oscar winner. He’s chilling, cold, and hangs over the whole film like a, well, spectre- his character and the organisation of SPECTRE itself tie together plot elements from Craig’s Bond era beautifully and give great closure to some hanging story threads from Casino Royale up to now. Waltz’s villain steals every scene he’s in- Craig is more than capable to stand up to him, but Waltz plays his villain with such disquieting, rat-like determination, you absolutely believe that this man is the head of a worldwide villainous organisation. I got physical chills whenever he was delivering his lines so calmly but with so much underlying threat- simply fantastic casting, from top to bottom. The film also predictably looks great, with Sam Mendes again directing after Skyfall and once Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema behind him- you could easily frame any number of shots in SPECTRE on your wall.
SPECTRE is a furiously entertaining film- despite being the longest Bond film of the entire series, it rarely feels like it’s wasting a single second of that time as the film crosses the globe in typical Bond fashion from Mexico City to Austria, and we can be so thankful for that- because I doubt we’ll get a Bond team, in front and behind the camera as talented as these folks are for a long time.
Words: Ryan Monty