Following on from the beautiful Skyfall – perhaps the best film in James Bond’s entire history – was never going to be an easy task for director Sam Mendes. Nevertheless, while Spectre – his second attempt at the franchise – is certainly no masterpiece, it’s still a thrilling watch.
Development of the film was marred by several controversies, first the release of Sam Smith’s whiney theme tune Writing’s On The Wall was met with a lukewarm response, then, Daniel Craig – the man who plays Bond himself – rather distastefully said he’d ‘rather slit his wrists’ than reprise the role; a statement he later apologised for.
Perhaps a tad surprising, then, that Craig is hands down the best thing about this movie. Though, with his large and muscular physique, the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider actor may not be the most conventional Bond, he somehow makes this work to his advantage. Brute force sometimes takes precedent over smart-thinking; again not traditionally Bond-like, but it brings an air of realism to both Craig’s character and the film itself.
Opposite him, Léa Seydoux is the perfect Bond girl. Never ditsy or cheapened, her character, Madeleine Swann, can handle a weapon just as well as Bond himself and – being the daughter of a dangerous rogue – she fully comprehends every twisted situation she’s thrown into.
Christoph Waltz, in his role as supervillain Franz Oberhauser, also hits top form. While he’s never physically threatening – far less intimidating than Javier Bardem’s bulky presence in Skyfall for instance – his verbal delivery is enough to send shivers down the spine. Yes Oberhauser is a creep, but he’s also a genius, and Waltz forms a perfect blend between the two traits; his delivery when describing Oberhauser’s newest torture device is utterly interesting yet endlessly disturbing.
That’s not to say there aren’t some poor performances, Dave Bautista fails to hit his mark as the brutish Mr Hinx, and Andrew Scott – as Bond’s new boss and ‘cocky little bastard’ Max Denbigh – falls flat. Noamie Harris makes a decent Miss Moneypenny, however, she’s nowhere near the likes of Samantha Bond and Lois Maxwell when it comes to being Bond’s flirtatious secretary.
It also has to be mentioned that, although the film is action-packed throughout, its running time is way too long. 148 minutes is an extensive amount of time to sit in a cinema chair and it seems, somewhere along the line, Mendes sacrificed the attention of his audience for the sake of squeezing in as much content as possible. Watching Bond order a ‘Healthy Enzyme Shake’ only to tell his waiter to throw it down the toilet in order to ‘cut out the middle man’, may have brought a few laughs but, in the grand scheme of things, it was one of many scenes that could’ve been cut or shortened.
Nevertheless, overall, Spectre is another very strong showing from Mendes. It remains to be seen whether or not Daniel Craig will continue as Bond but, if this is his last performance as the charming spy, he should be proud of what he’s achieved with the role. I wouldn’t say it’s a must see but, if you’re looking for a film to bridge the gap between now and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this one is worth your money.
Final Verdict: 8/10
Original Author: Jay Michael