We sent a writer to review the latest Bond film to see what the fuss was about. As expected, not much has changed.
WORDS || Cameron Colwell
While Spectre, the 24th entry into the James Bond series, opens strongly, it becomes very clear early on that the franchise is resting on its laurels after the success, both critical and financial, of Skyfall. We are reintroduced to Daniel Craig’s steely incarnation of the legendary M16 agent in Mexico, costumed as a skeleton in attendance at a Day of the Dead parade. As must inevitably happen within a Bond film, his holiday culminates in violence, leading to one of the Craig era’s most thrilling action sequences.
It’s discovered that Bond has been snooping around on a secret mission of his own accord – The spoiler-rife details don’t make sense if you think about it too much, but it does give Mr. Bond an excuse to begin his multinational romp. We discover there is an upheaval within M16: The government wants to end the 00 section, an initiative fronted by the slimy C, played by Andrew Scott. Tensions brew between him and M’s replacement, played by Ralph Fiennes, but Bond has his mind on other things.
After a visit to Q, played by the reliably charming Ben Whishaw, Bond sneaks off to Italy to meet with the (naturally) beautiful widow of one of the men killed in the opening, in what feels like a wasted performance by Monica Bellucci.
The rest plays out rather formulaically: Bond discovers that a terrorist organisation from the saga’s past has re-emerged, and that time is running out to stop them. While the action scenes are solid, and definitely entertaining, there’s not much that distinguishes Spectre from its predecessors. While Skyfall worked brillliantly because it injected some personal stakes into the movie, it seems Craig’s outing this time round is not playing a special agent, but a robot (or at least, giving an especially convincing impression of one) programmed to engage in car chases, drink, participate in rapid fisticuffs with a superhuman, but generic top henchman (Played by WWE’s Batista), travel to a litany of exotic locations, and make questionably aggressive passes at the nearest available femme fatale.
A romance between Bond and the daughter of the villain of a previous film (Played by Léa Seydoux) attempts poignancy, but fails to deter the sense of déjà vu permeating the film. Instead of supplying us with a particularly memorable Bond girl, these sequences feel contrived and take away from the action scenes. As expected of a Bond film, they’re thrilling, dynamic, and extremely watchable, but, by the lacklustre climax, there’s the sense that the film has run out of energy by the three-quarter mark.
Spectre has a curious relationship to the rest of the franchise. Much of the tries at humour are references to the Bond film’s staggering legacy, much like Skyfall, but many of them are likely to be met with eye-rolls than laughs. Additionally, there’s an attempt to weld together the last four films with the reveal of an arch-villain, which feels tacked-on rather than revelationary. The film, with its reference to global surveillance, tries to be topical, with a plot that riffs on the Snowden scandal, but loses its way among frequent bursts of technobabble.
Ultimately, Spectre makes for a solid, if poorly-paced 150-minutes of escapism, but there’s nothing here that’ll stick in the minds of audiences long after, or distinguish the film from the others in the franchise. Fans of the franchise expecting another Skyfall are likely to be disappointed, but satisfied in the knowledge that they have got this run’s worth of gunfights, car chases, and obligatory one-liners.