Spectre – Film Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista, Monica Belucci, Ralph Fiennnes
In cinemas October 26th
Love him or hate him James Bond is back and as usual the release of the latest film in the franchise is something of an event. There are very few movies that could live up to the hype that surrounds a Bond flick and cast and crew must surely feel the pressure in the build up to its launch. Especially following the phenomenal success of 2012’s Skyfall. However they seem to have taken a very Bond like approach to it and if they were anyway shaken by the task at hand they certainly didn’t seem to let it stir them and the result is a Bond movie that is as good if not better than the aforementioned Skyfall.
Since I’ve been asked not to mention any spoilers in my review it does restrict me somewhat. Obviously the title indicates that the global criminal agency Spectre are back in their first appearance in a Bond film since 1971’s Diamonds are Forever and without giving too much away I can say that fans won’t be disappointed. This draws heavily on Bond author Ian Fleming’s source material and has plenty of subtle homages to the classic movies and the books.
In this offering Bond (Craig) finds himself going rogue to complete a mission left for him by the now deceased M. In an adventure that takes him all over the world he uncovers a corruption that runs far deeper and closer to home than he could have imagined. As he delves deeper into the seedy world he has uncovered he is hindered by the fact that back in London M16 is fighting for it’s very existence as C (Scott) tries to replace 00 agents with drones claiming that they are obsolete. As he ploughs ahead with plans to implement a worldwide surveillance system that puts George Orwell’s 1984 vision to shame the new M (Fiennes), Moneypenny (Harris) and Q (Whishaw) helplessly watch as Bond faces possible death with no support network.
It’s not a spoiler to say that Bond makes it out alive – this is one character who is unlikely ever to die on screen – but along the way he does face some of the stickiest situations of his long career. The ante has been completely upped here and the car chases are faster, the fights longer and more brutal and the methods of torture employed by the bad guys is ever more gruesome. Continuing the tradition that started with Craig’s tenure we get further insight into Bonds background to help us better understand what has made him the man he is. Craig continues to bring a complexity to the role that was often lacking with other Bonds and the supporting cast all do a stellar job. It is nice that we get to see more of his colleagues here who have all to often use been used merely as catalysts to move a story along. Meanwhile Waltz revels in his bad guy roll and although he sometimes veers on the side of panto villain.
This hasn’t reinvented the wheel, it still contains all the elements you expect from a Bond film – beautiful girls, fast cards, OTT bad guys – however it feels fresh and contemporary. There are plenty of big set pieces and spectacles but in Mendes hands they are interwoven nicely with the more human elements of Bond’s tale lest we forget that he is just a man and not some sort of super hero. I’d say this is a must see but that’s something of a given since you’ll be the only person around the water cooler who hasn’t seen it if you don’t. Unlike many “must see” movies though this is supremely entertaining. A thrill a minute from the off this never drags and keeps you engaged throughout. There has been speculation that this may be Craig’s last Bond and it is quite a movie to go out on. You can believe all the hype. If you’re not already a Bond fan this may be the movie that converts you and if you are you will analyse it to death.