Where next after the $1 billion (£650 million) and most successful 007 outing in the franchise’s 50 year run? The Skyfall team are back, but is Bond back too?
It is a resounding ‘yes’. Bond is back, and in more ways than I expected. As director Sam Mendes has stated in press interviews; this is a different beast to Skyfall entirely. Quite rightly too – why try to bottle lightning twice. The Daniel Craig era stripped the franchise back and has been very cautious in reintroducing the gadgets, quips and glamorous locales that the made the series iconic. I really enjoyed how they presented the car gadgets back to the audience again, but in a flawed way (even the car wasn’t supposed to be for 007!). Answering Ralph Fiennes’ M in the closing scene of Skyfall, 007 is indeed back to work in SPECTRE. This is much more of a ‘fun’ Bond movie and during the film I wasn’t actually sure that I liked it. The cold, washed up and alcohol dependant assassin from Skyfall, to me, makes for a much more intriguing Bond. In SPECTRE Bond is at the top of his game shooting his way out of the villain’s lair unscathed whilst wearing impeccable suits. It was a surprise to watch a fun Bond movie again; I was expecting to be pulled back in to the dark at any minute. Daniel Craig is certainly my favourite Bond (even though I grew up with Pierce) and he plays it with both confidence and a vulnerability from Vesper’s sting in Casino Royale. He’s had a decade’s worth of a gritty 007, and has certainly earned to have some fun with SPECTRE. If it is indeed a swan song; it couldn’t be a better one.
SPECTRE’s action is a highlight compared to the previous outing. Nothing can top Casino Royale’s parkour crane chase, and I thought Skyfall’s opening sequence was always over praised. The opening sequence of SPECTRE is set amongst Mexico’s Day Of The Dead parade and contains a breath-stopping single tracking shot (when a camera physically follows a person or an object with no visible cuts) which is perhaps a first for the franchise and always a personal favourite of mine in any film. It’s a thrilling opener and now one of my favourites. Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is luxuriously grounded, and Lee Smith’s editing is solidly paced too (what else would we expect from Christopher Nolan’s crack team!). The car chase sequence in Rome is operatic and thrilling with the Aston Martin DB10 tearing through the streets. Dave Bautista’s Mr. Hinx is a sinister brute force and easily my favourite henchman of the series.
There are plot holes and some lazy exposition in SPECTRE. Dr. Madeline Swann falls for Bond at the drop of a hat, and Monica Belucci is disappointingly under used. I feel Christophe Waltz’s Oberhauser/Blofeld really should have escaped at the end to add a sense of peril to the “James Bond will return” closing tag. Instead, the fate of this huge character wasn’t touched upon and Bond drove off happily in to the sunset without a care in the world. The villain’s motivation wasn’t crystal clear and the threat wasn’t really felt; Waltz was another under used talent. Sadly, Sam Smith’s theme is also quite underwhelming.
Overall, SPECTRE felt like an indirect love note to all the classic 007 moments, and was exciting to watch. I thought it was a fantastic instalment, and I’m already trying to plan when I can see it a second time. The team have had fun with this outing of Bond and it is certainly conveyed on screen. I wasn’t expecting a return of so many key elements, but they were a pleasant surprise. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Christopher Nolan to finally take the keys for the next outing!
UPDATE: After a second viewing, it was just as enjoyable!
Featured image © Sony Pictures