Director : Sam Mendes
Writers : John Logan & Neil Purvis
There’s a moment in Spectre where James Bond stands in the doorway of the crumbling MI6 building. Lit from behind, his shadow looms large across the broken concrete floor. The artfully constructed shot, by Director Mendes, was probably intended to build the ominous mood, but instead created a visual representation of the Bond conundrum. Daniel Craig’s version of the character is only transient, but given that his personal story arc felt completed in Skyfall, how do you stop it from becoming disposable?
The opening sequence in Mexico City is strong. Huge in scale and visually rich, the Day of the Dead parade provides a fitting backdrop for Bond to assassinate an unknown villain. It’s all done with a wink and a smile that primes you for a fun Bond outing. But once the dreary Sam Smith opening song begins, the writing is already on the wall.
In Spectre, Bond goes rogue to track down the sinister organisation of the man he killed in Mexico. He heads to the Rome and proves himself as an assassin with excellent after sales service – he doesn’t just kill you, he’ll also come to you funeral and sleep with your wife. Through the widow (Monica Bellucci) he learns of a secret meeting being held at an Eyes Wide Shut style mansion that night. He gets in easily by showing the Octopus ring he slipped from his victim in Mexico, but unfortunately for him those inside aren't wearing masks and he is spotted quickly. Luckily, the last remaining spot in the mansions car park was next to the window he was forced to jump out of , so his bulletproof Aston Martin DB10 was on hand to help him get away.
Now that Craig has grown into the 007 role, Spectre seemed to struggle under the weight of the combined Bond history. While you can take comfort in the standard touch points, it’s a fine line between nostalgia and imitation and the risk of nodding to the past is that you might find yourself wishing you were still there. As so it is that when Bond heads to the snow covered Austrian Mountains, it’s a disappointment when there are no cello cases in sight and when he throws Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) off the train, you find yourself missing Jaws.
The supporting triumvirate of M, Q and Moneypenny are all solid but the new charecters are weakly drawn. With Tarantino’s dialogue and staging, Christopher Waltz was a terrifying Nazi, but on the artificial Spectre set he came off as a Leprechaun Dentist rather than a Global Supervillian. Likewise Lea Sedoux was dressed up like a Bond girl, but I must have dozed off during the part when she became the love of Bond’s life.
Regardless of your attachment to the Bond universe, to warrant two and a half hours out of your day, each movie should be able to standalone, but Spectre doesn’t. Despite the biggest budget for a Bond film so far, it felt underdone and clumsily connected to its predecessors. Sam Mendes won’t be coming back as Director and you can only hope that rumours of Christopher Nolan taking over are true. The Casino Royale reboot gave us a grittier Bond than we ever had before, but to stay relevant in the current world we may need a Bond prepared to get his Saville Row suits even dirtier still.
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