FILM REVIEW - SPECTRE
Directed by Sam Mendes.
Starring Daniel Craig, Christophe Waltz, Léa Seydoux.
Those of us who have become accustomed to the new, gritty era will come away disappointed.
Ever since Casino Royale (2006) achieved the impossible feat of making James Bond relevant again, the once-floundering franchise has never been in ruder health. No doubt this eagerly awaited follow-up will make more money than Microsoft, but it’s a case of two steps forward, one step back. Picking up immediately after the events of Skyfall (2012), Spectre sees Bond (Daniel Craig) fighting a war on multiple fronts. First up is the task of hunting the shadowy Franz Oberhauser (Christophe Waltz – fine but underused), head of a multinational criminal organisation with links to the baddies from the previous three chapters. There’s also trouble at home, with oily new MI6 boss Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott – again, fine but underused) threatening to mothball the Double-O program. Business as usual then.
Let’s start with the positives. Four movies in and Craig’s rough diamond has grown into the quintessential Bond. If this is the actor’s last hurrah (and it’s not), then Spectre provides a satisfying resolution to his story arc. Returning director Sam Mendes hits all the necessary beats, from kinetic action sequences in exotic locations to a spectacular set-piece every 30 minutes or so. But the gritty realism of the previous movies has been lost in the quest to make everything bigger, and Spectre starts ticking boxes best left as “optional”.
The action is far too slick, and any sense of genuine peril has all but disappeared. Signs of Brosnan-period cheesy humour are beginning to creep back in, along with the clichéd gimmickry of exploding watches and pimped-out Top Gear wankmobiles with ejector seats and machine guns. Spectre is still a decent popcorn flick that will please fans of “old” Bond, but those of us who have become accustomed to the new, gritty era will come away slightly disappointed.