Spectre is the 24th James Bond film and the successor to the UK’s highest grossing film ever; Skyfall. But did it live up to its predecessor?
In my opinion… no it didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this film. It’s entertaining and the set pieces are exquisite but it didn’t offer me anything I hadn’t seen before. Maybe this was the films aim however as Spectre’s goal was to tie up all of the previous Bond films with a big bad villain. James Bond (Daniel Craig) causes a stir in Mexico City on their Day Of The Dead festival and subsequently is suspended, but to no ones surprise decides to go against the rules and track down an organisation named Spectre and its leader Frank Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Oberhauser has a reputation as someone who knows how to hide, knows how to deal with people and also knows how to be a disappointing villain.
This actually pains me to write this but Oberhauser wasn’t anything special as far as villains go. Christoph Waltz is actually my all time favourite male actor and I adored his Oscar winning performance as Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 Inglorious Basterds. Softly menacing, discreetly humorous and also…crazy. It’s a crying shame that he’s probably the polar opposite of this in Spectre. He states that he is ‘the author of all your pain’ to Bond but this revelation falls flat as it’s delivered in a weak and lacklustre fashion. Simply put, he doesn’t even come close to Javier Bardem’s Silva.
As we delve deeper into the mystery, we’re offered stunning locations including Austria, Tangiers and of course, our very own London. Each location offers up new characters that differ from Skyfall. Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci) appears in the film for less than 5 minutes and her only role is to pander to Bond’s sexual gaze and thusly sleep with him. I find this incredibly disappointing as Monica is an amazing Italian actress and like Waltz, her acting prowess was not utilised enough. She seemed to mirror Severine in Skyfall, the woman who is in danger but ultimately becomes a sex object for Bond.
James has always been, as Daniel Craig expertly put it, ‘a misogynist’. He uses women for his own sexual gratification regardless of their position or emotional state. Naomi Harris’ Eve Moneypenny is the only female character that seems to shrug off Bond’s advances, instead opting to be a work colleague and friend. The main problem I had in the film, regarding women was the main character Madeleine Swann (played by French actress Lea Seydoux). She’s adamantly against Bond for the two’s first encounters and even states that if he touches her she’ll ‘shoot him’ and then in a surprising (or maybe not surprising) turn of events they’re both sleeping together. Fast forward two or three scenes and she’s confessing her all out love for him. But then I guess if anything these films teach you is that life is short and human contact is fleeting.
Scattered throughout the film are some unimpressive car chases and fight scenes, yes they involve burly men like Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista) ricocheting Bond’s skull of a train window but there is not much technical skill to the fights and in this respect, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was better. The fights were more technical and they kept you entertained for longer. In fact the two films have a lot in common, they could practically be the same film. They both include espionage, a lead male character with a computer literate sidekick and a kick ass woman. Even the settings are the same, London and Morocco. Unfortunately for Spectre, Rogue Nation won this battle of ‘Who did it better?’
Spectre blended elements from all the previous Bond films with this instalment feeling a lot more like Casino Royale than Skyfall. We’re given a more classic approach this time, even the score by Thomas Newman felt like a recycled version of Skyfall with some added up tempo tracks towards the end. Andrew Scott’s ‘C’ or Max Denbigh is worth a mention as even though he wasn’t an obvious villain, just his casual conversation with Ralph Fiennes ‘M’ held more menace than Waltz’s did.
So, to roundup, Spectre is a very entertaining film with stunning locations, action sequences and cinematography. And if ticket numbers are to go by (I know, I work at a cinema) then Spectre may indeed surpass Skyfall as the highest grossing UK film. There is no doubt that this film will be a massive advantage for the UK cinema industry but if you look hard enough, the cracks in this overly hyped film will begin to appear.