With anticipations running high there’s always a significant weight of expectation on the well tailored shoulders of any Bond film and that was undoubtedly the case for the 24th entry in the series, SPECTRE, especially with the lower ebb of Skyfall preceding it. Casino Royale had raised the bar for the 007 franchise and introduced Daniel Craig as the legendary British intelligence agent with a stylish and sinister wrap to the nuts, but it hasn’t been equaled since and while the new film doesn’t quite take the number one spot for us, it does enter the fray as a very close second favourite.
It’s got everything you’d ever want in a Bond film and starts out with classic style on a slightly rogue assassination mission during the Día de Muerto festival in Mexico City, firing the licensed killer onto the trail of the illusive international organisation, SPECTRE. Hitting the ground running, there’s a hell of a lot of action crammed into the 2 hours, 28 minutes film and it rarely lets up for you to catch your breath before the climactic finish.
We’re not going to give much away in terms of the story, but overall it works incredibly well to rekindle the old magic of the sinister force that is SPECTRE. Elements of the past are rewritten fairly significantly, but at no point do you regret the creative license it’s taken on, and what you get at the end is a near faultless Bond film that will undoubtedly go on to be a classic entry in the series.
Girls, guns, cars and Martinis are in great supply throughout the film, which feels modern and progressive, while still having major links to the past. As a result it’s fresh and exciting with more than a little nostalgia for some of the great Bond films of the past. It also manages to do a good job of flipping the many parodies of the series on their heads with its own serious take on it, which is a clever way of tackling what had previously become a bit of a joke.
Daniel Craig (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn) is on excellent form, bringing high intensity and intention to the role, along with flawless delivery and strong action scenes. He’s supported by a brilliant ensemble cast that help to create the unquestionable credibility the series needs to meet the expectations of its fans and review critics like us. The new Bond girls are impeccable, providing a real range of motivations with Monica Bellucci’s frayed, alone and endangered Lucia Sciarra latching onto her only available opportunity for survival and Léa Seydoux’s (The Lobster) reluctant and annoyed Dr. Madeleine Swann who becomes embroiled in James’ dark task.
Ben Wishaw (The Lobster) has a much bigger part as Q to play in SPECTRE than he has in the previous films and he has some good lines, which are stumbled over to perfection, quipping with James throughout the entire film in his tech geek facade. We weren’t entirely convinced by Ralph Fiennes’ (The Grand Budapest Hotel) appointment as the new M, but he’s actually very good, and the 00 programme is rounded out with dependable quality from Rory Kinnear (Man Up) as MI6 Chief Of Staff, Bill Tanner, and Naomie Harris (Skyfall), who shines as the new Miss Moneypenny. Andrew Scott (Sherlock) makes for an interesting addition too, although he doesn’t come through as strongly as he could.
On the SPECTRE side of the tracks, Christoph Waltz (Tulip Fever) takes the plaudits as the head of the organisation with slow and measured malevolence and a cold rationality befitting a supervillain of his stature. He’s got the perfect henchman in Mr. Hinx, played brilliantly by Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy), and the whole setup is made all the more real with the presence of Jesper Christensen as Mr. “you’re a kite dancing in a hurricane” White.
Sam Mendes has done a very good job of bringing the film together as the director and the end result is one of the finest new Bond films we’ve ever seen. It’s a big step up from Skyfall and allows for a lot of scope for further developments in the series in Bonds 25, 26 and 27, which we’re convinced will be on the way with the sheer success of SPECTRE.
SPECTRE review: 4.4/5