Following 2012’s critically and commercially successful Skyfall, 24th Bond film Spectre has the potential to be the strongest 007 in Daniel Craig’s run, with the ever-brilliant Christoph Waltz as Bond’s reprehensible adversary, and skilful storyteller Sam Mendes behind the camera. However, the film falls short of the sum of its parts, plagued by a tiresome storyline and a final victory that is all too easy.
James Bond embarks on a rogue mission after receiving a trustworthy yet unexplained clue. Unwilling to heed the authority of his superiors, following the trail brings him to multiple destinations, finally culminating in a confrontation with the malevolent global crime organisation, SPECTRE. Meanwhile, the newly-appointed M (Ralph Fiennes) battles political pressures to shut down the 00 operation indefinitely. Unlike most other Bond films, Spectre is quite singular because it alludes to almost all of the previous 007 stories in the Daniel Craig serie – one of very few attempts at continuity.
Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, previously of Interstellar, brings expertise in perfectly capturing the milieu of a handful of different locales, from Mexico City to the Austrian Alps. Mendes understands the genre to its fullest: his camerawork is unpretentious and effective in progressing the story. Unfortunately, Waltz’s limitless talents as a commanding character actor are wasted on Franz Oberhauser, the nebulous figurehead of SPECTRE, who turns out, inevitably, to have a personal vendetta against Bond. The characterisation of Bond’s nemesis proves to lack depth and substance.
A few refreshing points include a much more active role for Bond’s support network, comprised of M, Q (Ben Whishaw) and Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). The opening sequence to Sam Smith’s Writing on the Wall (a song that easily holds its own, unlike Adele’s Skyfall) features stunning visuals of a mammoth octopus, the emblem of the secret organisation.
Ultimately, Spectre is barely suitable as a mindless action flick, and a long way from becoming a classic in the James Bond franchise. After more than 20 films, it is of course difficult to fashion a Bond film that will last the ages. Nonetheless, modern audiences are still waiting for a simply satisfactory one in recent memory.
Spectre is released nationwide on 26th October 2015.
Watch the trailer for Spectre here: