James Bond: Spectre Review

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‘Spectre’ is the latest instalment in the ever-continuous legacy of the famous James Bond franchise.

It voyages through Bond’s pursuit of discovering an important truth, whilst MI6 is simultaneously battling their own internal conflict.

Directed by Sam Mendes, the film begins shortly after the events of the 2012 hit ‘Skyfall’, where Bond is on a mission to fulfil the dying request of Judi Dench’s ‘M’; to unravel the whereabouts, identity and behaviour of Franz Oberhauser (played by Christoph Waltz). Along this journey he stumbles upon the history of the mysterious organisation known as ‘Spectre’, and their involvement in an array of previous terror acts. Such information leads to great personal discovery, progression and introspection.

James Bond and the Aston Martin DB10
The remarkably classy man himself, James Bond.
Image taken from MGM

A review of this film without mentioning the opening sequence would simply be incomplete; it was epic in all aspects.

Tailing behind Bond in the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City, viewers are treated to a one-take shot of our protagonist simply being himself – rocking a fabulous suit, playing around with a woman and, of course, taking down henchmen… Then throw in an out-of-control helicopter. The non-stop footage reminded me of scenes in the masterpiece ‘Pulp Fiction’, where there are no cuts during a lengthy conversation between Jules and Vincent. The music was brilliant, perfectly suiting the upbeat and intense emotions drawn by the action, while the filming was almost flawless. It was bereft of the now overused and terrible ‘shaky-cam’, instead with a consistent accuracy for detail. Hands down to cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, not only for this scene but for his great work throughout the film.

As the film progressed one thing remained constant in my mind; the powerful personal adventure of Bond and action scenes were great, however, when the film was cycling through certain plot-points I found myself bored, yearning for the return of some action or a new layer to Bond. To be specific, the subplot of ‘C’ wanting to abolish the Double-O program and replace it with “far superior technology” was dry and dragged on far too long for my taste.

Another complaint was the stark and almost easy predictability of the plot.

Too often was I disappointed by telling my friend next to me what was about to happen, who was about to die, or who was meant to be dead but somehow remained alive, and being correct every single time. Being able to recognise the future occurrences in any film isn’t rare, yet the what happened in ‘Spectre’ sadly transcended most other movies in this category, diminishing my holistic enjoyment of this newest Bond film.

lea seydoux in Spectre
Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swan.
Image taken from MGM

However, several actors truly shone in their performances and embodiment of their characters.

Firstly, the introduction to the villain Oberhauser was impeccable, creating an intense curiosity and feeling of suspense awaiting for his revelation to the members of Spectre. Maintaining the notion of the slow-pace of the film, I found myself waiting quite some time just to see the main villain. In my opinion if a film is hoping to inspire great anxiousness when seeing the villain for the first time, they must learn from the brilliant job done in ‘Jaws’. You need to not see the terrifying shark until it is almost too late. When Waltz’s character was shown he was menacing and evil, yet struggled to enact much consideration in my mind that he was a genuine threat to Bond. The only exception being when he was “medically examining” Bond’s brain, drilling into it with sharp needles – it was as painful to watch as it would have been to endure. Thankfully the character of Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) served her purpose well in aiding Bond in his attempt to destroy Spectre, and there was a sense of great chemistry between the two on a consistent basis.

Sam Mendes did a fantastic job of tying in old-school Bond references along with flashbacks and images of notable characters from the Daniel Craig group of Bond films.

I was impressed by the way in which Spectre was able to manipulate and torment Bond’s mind by bombarding him with his troublesome history.

Overall, I enjoyed ‘Spectre’. It did a worthy job of an action-based Bond film, but was sadly slow and dull at times. The film greatly manages to develop idea of Bond merely being an individual, battling against a large-scale and powerful organisation determined to bring him down. I cannot say I enjoyed this more than Craig’s previous work in ‘Casino Royale’ or ‘Skyfall’, however it undoubtedly trumps ‘Quantum of Solace’ without any comparison.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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