Exotic locales, fast cars, guns, girls and explosions. It’s a Bond film, but like the rest of the Daniel Craig films there’s actually some continuity as well.
Cast and Crew
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser
Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
Ralph Fiennes as M
Monica Bellucci as Lucia
Ben Whishaw as Q
Naomie Harris as Moneypenny
Dave Bautista as Hinx
Andrew Scott as C
Rory Kinnear as Tanner
Jesper Christensen as Mr White
Alessandro Cremona as Marco Sciarra
Stephanie Sigman as Estrella
Directed by Sam Mendes
Story by John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade
Screenplay by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth
Based on characters created by Ian Fleming
Before she died, M left Bond a message urging him to hunt down a particular criminal and then be present at his funeral. Bond does this (after demolishing a couple of buildings in Mexico City and nearly crashing a helicopter into a very large crowd of people) and quickly uncovers the existence of a shadowy council and an organisation which controls much of the world’s crime. Just in case this wasn’t sinister enough, the head of Spectre bears Bond a personal grudge. At the same time, M is trying to counteract C, the head of a new organisation which is pushing an international electronic surveillance system, who is determined to get the 00 programme shut down.
The Spectre meeting is shadowy, sinister and ominous.
The new Q isn’t really as absent-minded as he might have led us to believe in the past.
Bond is going off unauthorised yet again. We know he’s always right, but I’m surprised M takes it so calmly.
Madeleine gets the chance to finish off one of the bad guys, but for no good reason she only ends up giving Bond the chance he needs to do it himself. Not only does this relegate her back to Helpless Bond Girl, it also means we have to suffer through one of the worst last lines in recent Bond memory.
“Smart blood”. Gargh.
Apparently C’s files are secured with ROT13 instead of any actual encryption. Either that or Q’s laptop contains a full-blown quantum processor. But it is a Bond film, so I shouldn’t judge too harshly.
Originality naturally suffers because it’s retreading material from previous films and the Fleming books with Spectre. In some ways it also feels a bit like a retread of Quantum of Solace. Plus the story does follow the usual formula, so the twists and turns are never particularly surprising. 3/6.
Effects are fantastic. On this kind of budget you expect them to be. We’ve got car chases, mountain chases, many explosions and towards the end some superb injury makeup. 6/6.
The story is exceedingly dodgy. Bond films are built to a formula, but sometimes that formula is more coherent than others, and this time the coherence is fairly low. Much was made before the film’s release of Bond seducing an ‘older’ woman (one his age for a change), but the scene is perfunctory and we did not get the necessary development of her character to understand her motivations – it feels more like she does what she does just because Bond is so utterly amazing in bed. I think there’s probably some backstory here that there wasn’t time to expand upon and explain, but I really wish we had seen that. Then once we get on to the main villain and his motivations, I’m left with a big fat “why?”. There’s continuity through the Daniel Craig era, and this film attempts to tie various things together but it feels quite clumsy and forced, and the villain’s motivation wasn’t at all clear to me. Not that an explanation wasn’t attempted, but it just felt… trivial. 2/6.
The acting is variable. Fiennes delivers as M – a fairly one-note performance, but that’s more the demands of the script than Fiennes’ capabilities. Craig is Bond as we’ve seen him in the previous three films, with a bit of wit, a bit of passion and an awful lot of cold-blooded violence. Unfortunately, Christoph Waltz’s slightly sinister and very definitely crazy performance isn’t quite right. There’s a lot to appreciate, but he never really seems to blend into the film with the other characters. Of the rest of the cast, Harris and Whishaw both sparkle as Moneypenny and Q respectively, and both get to do more than their counterparts in the older Bond films. 5/6
Emotional response is quite poor, and mostly in the realm of “wow that was awesome”. Bond films are a vehicle for spectacle, not really the plot and certainly not making the audience discover anything about themselves on an emotional level. I wasn’t completely indifferent, but I was also not particularly engaged. 2/6.
The Production is basically magnificent. One doesn’t really expect anything else from Bond films – gorgeous locales, incredible music and sound design, wonderful costumes and lavish set design. All that said, it doesn’t quite come together perfectly somehow and lacks that crucial something unspecifiable which would lead me to grant it a full score. 5/6.
Overall, I did enjoy the film. When you attempt to analyse it things just start looking worse, but when you sit down and watch it and let it carry you along it’s a fun ride. Just don’t expect this one to resonate as a classic. 4/6.
In total, Spectre receives twenty-seven out of forty-two.