Posted Oct 28 2015

Spectre -This Bond Rocks...But It's No Skyfall

Dir: Sam Mendes

Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Naome Harris, Ben Wishaw, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott

There’s an awful lot to like in Spectre. But it still doesn’t stop Sam Mendes’ second Bond movie being something of a mess. For every impressive opening tracking shot, there’s a pointless reveal. For every successful action sequence, there’s a hollow character beat. In short, so much that he got right in Skyfalll, is missing here in his follow up.

Bond himself is on fine form. With Craig practically sewn into all of his suits, he is at first here Bond the bruiser, left battle scarred by the loss of his ersatz “mommy” in the form of Dench’s dead M (even though she makes a brief beyond the grave appearance here.) Thus he’s careering round the Mexican Day of the Dead in the pre-credit sequence before making us all listen to that increasingly dreadful Sam Smith song – surely one of the worst Bond themes ever.

Then it’s off to all points of the globe in search of Christoph Waltz’s mysterious, tenticular titular criminal organisation – who just happen to have been behind everything Bond has had to face up to since Casino Royale. Yet they never explain why Quantum of Solace was so shite. Weird!

Along the way Monica Bellucci presents herself as an age-appropriate lay and absolutely nothing more than that, before the really rather decent Lea Seydoux rocks up as a much younger ingénue whose relationship with Bond becomes little more than totally unrealistic. Then Dave Bautista also rocks up not only as a bizarre reference-heavy tribute to Robert Shaw and his From Russia To Love train fight, but also a seeming homage to Richard Kiel’s Jaws and his Spy Who Loved Me train fight; and then, finally and perhaps most bizarrely, as a beer barrel heavy ode to Spielberg and his Jaws. I think we’ve gonna need a bigger train anyone?

It is, at best, despite its very well staged and fluid action sequences, uneven. Yes, the Bond bits work – the guns, the cars, the locations, the set pieces. But it’s crying out for the humanity and the character that this same team brought to the last one. Skyfall made Bond a real person again, Spectre wants the caricature back and roots him firmly in spectacle.

And don’t get us started on the whole Blofeld thing! Yes, by now, it’s not a spoiler. Apart from the fact that it was obvious for about the last year or so, Waltz’s big reveal – complete with white pussy – is firstly, not a big reveal. And secondly, just completely and utterly pointless. This incarnation of Bond has no history with Ernst Stavro so why is he Blofeld as opposed to A.N. Other bad guy? Simply because he’s already paid for the Nehru jacket it appears. Talk about a damp squib being thrown on the dying embers of a spent bonfire.

Yet, there are still things to like in Spectre. If it wasn’t for the spectre of Skyfall, this would be a perfectly functional beast. Mendes’ handling of his impressive action moments are certainly the finest he’s ever marshalled and the movie delivers on those levels. It’s just a shame that having added three dimensions to his iconic leading man last time out, he and all those around him, seem content to shave off at least two of those in this follow up.

And the final scene - uness it's trying to homage OHMSS - is just pants. Still, Ben Wishaw is great!


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