SPECTRE review: Bond is back, in spectacular form

Director: Sam Mendes

Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux

The Overview

With the demons of his past still haunting him, Bond is on the trail of a sinister organisation known as “SPECTRE”; a group thought to be behind worldwide attacks. MI6 are considered archaic and facing closure, so Bond must work alone with the few that he can trust to find out who is behind SPECTRE, and uncover the deep personal connections that they have to him.

The Good

Many will praise Craig as being the best Bond since Connery, and rightly so. This is his fourth outing as 007, and whilst not as good as Casino Royale, I’d put it up there with Skyfall to be a joint second best out of the Craig era films.

This really is a film for the fans, and there are so many little nods to the old films which the hardcore fans will absolutely adore! That’s not to say there isn’t plenty here for more casual acquaintances of Bond.

It wouldn’t be a Bond film without action, and whilst there are slower story-driven parts of this film, it still ticks all the necessary Bond boxes! The opening sequence set at the Mexican “day of the dead” festival is visually stunning, and the car chase through Rome is a real highlight. There are some classic Bond locations revisited, and the whole action sequence in the Austrian Alps is fantastic; very reminiscent of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

So much will have been said about Craig as Bond already; he is great as always so I don’t need to delve into this too much. Christoph Waltz plays the villain Franz Oberhauser, and is just in another class. He is a total scene-stealer, and the slow reveal of him emerging from the darkness is possibly the best scene in the film. He delivers every line with so much relish and menace, and he is simply amazing to watch. I tend to take issue with the portrayal of women in Bond films, as they are usually just there to be objectified, but Léa Seydoux is great as Madeleine Swann, and given her connections to Bond (I won’t spoil this), she is treated with some respect and dignity which is a refreshing change.

Where the previous Craig films had to deal with introducing us to a new Q, a new M and a new Moneypenny, SPECTRE can get straight into the mission as these characters are now familiar to the audience. This not only helps the story, but having that familiarity with the supporting characters emphasises that classic Bond movie feel.

Rebooting the franchise for Casino Royale was such a good move and injected some much needed life back into a series which was slowly in decline (we do not speak of Die Another Day, I have erased it from my memory!). SPECTRE feels like a Bond film of old, but yet fresh and modern still. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here and whether they’ll look at redoing some of the old films, or create some original stories. Either way, I’m excited to see what happens next!

The Bad

With a runtime of almost 2.5 hours, this film is a little bit too long and could have some bits trimmed here and there. All the actions scenes are excellent, as already mentioned, but they are quite spread out, and there are long periods where the pace is a bit slower. Personally, I didn’t mind this, but I think some audiences might be expecting a bit more. The payoff is worth it though, and the end is tense and exciting. Pace yourself, soak in the story, enjoy the great acting performances (as well as the action) and you’ll make it through!

I went into this (deliberately) not knowing a huge amount about the storyline, but I knew that Christoph Waltz would be in it and was excited to see what he would bring to an iconic role. I guess my only criticism is that he wasn’t in it enough! An actor that amazing deserves so much more screen time, but that being said, every scene he’s in is fantastic. Fingers crossed for some more Waltz in the deleted scenes on the DVD!

The Verdict

I saw this movie and you should too. If you’re a big Bond fan, you will find so much to love in this film and will want to see it several times to make sure you picked up on everything. Whether this will be Craig’s last outing as Bond remains to be seen, but it is a very satisfying conclusion to this quartet of films, neatly wrapping up a lot of plot threads from Craig’s previous three films, but yet still leaving a lot of things wide open for the films which will follow. A must-see!

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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