Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Christophe Waltz and Monica Bellucci
Rating: 3.5 /5
There is a certain cloud over Spectre the latest in the franchise and that’s comparison. Skyfall was visceral and thrilling in a theme park ride kind of way and Quantum of Solace, ditto, with a wider ranging story and greater emotional heft.
Spectre is a throwback to a different Bond era, coloured with references to that past – clues found at Bond’s childhood family seat of Skyfall, and Spectre itself. Fans will enjoy tying past and present with nostalgic relish.
The stunts are stupendous and showy the locations are far flung and exotic but a simmering James Bond has the weight of the world on his shoulders.
His expression has turned a mite hangdog because at this time in his life, when the Double O unit has been taken over to be dismantled, a man claiming to be the source of all his professional and personal pain reveals himself and it becomes clear he is incapable of sustaining any kind of relationship, well, it’s wearying. Oh and the threats from young bloods back at the office, but by gum he can still bring it.
Take the opening sequence set in a crowded city square in Mexico in the throes of Day of the Dead celebrations. Grimly costumed citizens don’t realise there is a top level spy in their midst and that he is in deadly danger.
The inevitable showdown careens in a single shot through the crowd, up to a rooftop and onto a helicopter that spins flops and falls uncomfortably close to the sea of heads. Bond is going at it inside the chopper, falling and recovering, fists flying.
There’s plenty more where that came from and lots more exotic places where these signature nerve rattling brawls take place.
There’s an astonishing single shot sequence of Bond in a tux, striding across Moroccan rooftops in enemy territory, high above the ground. It’s short but confirms Craig’s style and chutzpah. No trickery.
Bond is one franchise that has always trumpeted its female characters as sexy, smart, physical and highly skilled. Monica Bellucci, the stunning Italian actress plays one of his lovers, the well protected wife of a murdered international boss.
Women are gorgeous at all ages naturally, but she’s 51 and that makes her the oldest Bond “girl” to date. She’s regal and deliberate, but burns inside and frankly we need more of her.
The focal Bond girl is Léa Seydoux, the French actress from Blue is the Warmest Color and she is allowed to be a passive onlooker/damsel in distress but she manages to beef up her role.
And regarding Bond’s and apparently Craig’s sense of ennui, and stated disdain for the work, it may be time to bring in fresh blood and passion and say goodbye to our gritty anti-hero/hero. Let the casting games begin.