Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig are back for another go-around the Bond track in Spectre, bringing back one of the franchise’s most recognisable villains, despite his face changing almost as often as 007’s, Ernst Blofeld. Spectre had a lot to live up to after the success of Skyfall which for many set the bar for Bond films. While comprised of beautiful visual set pieces and great performances from its cast, Spectre’s faults lie with its plot.
The opening scenes of Spectre are some of the best in the film and showcase what Mendes can do as a director. They are filled with stunning tonal visuals that almost play as a love letter to Mexico City, not to mention explosions, humour and a suave looking Daniel Craig. Unfortunately what then follows was a confusing, CGI-laden, helicopter brawl that went on for just that little bit too long to sour the opening. And this is Spectre’s issue, detached scenes that don’t quite hit the mark detracting from the impact of the film.
Some plot points seem rushed through creating confusion, thinking particularly of aspects of the L’American Hotel sections, with one or two scenes seeming so short as to really question their worth in the film. Monica Bellucci, who had been paraded around every promotional event as the oldest ‘Bond girl’ ever, managed an entire five minutes on screen. Those left expecting more from her later were disappointed.. Yet surprisingly – and horrifyingly – it still managed to create one of the most sexist Bond moments of recent years.
And what of the villain? Eh. Christoph Waltz is certainly a presence on screen and he does a fine job with what he’s given, this unfortunately isn’t much. The plot reveals towards the end could be seen a mile off, whilst Blofeld wasn’t given a very unique personality leaving him looking a little weak for a Bond villain. In fact, I found myself far more interested in the fascinating way Mendes played with light and dark and the use of shadows in Waltz scenes than really what the character was doing or saying.
So once again Spectre falls into the same issue, style over substance. It’s not necessarily a terrible script but it just doesn’t live up to the scenery and no amount of good acting can save that. As for me, I’d rather watch Skyfall.
Bonus Opening Credits Review!
Having managed to avoid listening to Sam Smith’s controversial Writing’s on the Wall I was looking forward to hearing it in all its full screen glory. I was underwhelmed. Smith’s vocals are good on the verses but lose strength in the chorus, leaving the song feeling a little weak for a Bond theme. A problem only emphasised because Adele was such a power in Skyfall and the themes are so closely associated with Shirley Bassey’s belting voice as she performed some of Bond’s best remembered songs. Saying this I enjoyed the lyrics and the music itself, and after a few more listens will probably be disposed to think of it more favourably.
Beyond the music, the visuals view more like a patchwork job of previous films than their own cohesive piece, with a particular fire sequence almost convincing me that Bond had travelled back to the 90s and it would be Pierce Brosnan swaggering onto screen any minute rather than Craig. And some of the only original content, the tentacles? The less said in my opinion, the better.