I bet Sam Mendes is smiling right now. Spectre is one of the most operatic, atmospheric, satisfying and explosive James Bond adventures, I left the cinema with a big cheesy grin on my face with almost no words to explain my thoughts and feelings, and general happiness. As a huge Bond fan since the age of four, I couldn’t have been any happier to find that all the Craig era Bond films have tied up superbly, as well as there being numerous hints, name drops, surprising twists and shocking reveals from previous 007 films. This is an absolute masterpiece but I warn you readers as this review contains spoilers as I cannot contain my excitement any longer, I have to tell all.
Bond goes rogue on a globe-trotting adventure that takes him to Mexico, Tangier and Austria in an attempt to uncover the mystery behind the secret organisation S.P.E.C.T.R.E. His mission becomes even more personal when a cryptic message from his past digs up family memories and old faces, faces he thought were long dead. The pace in this 24th outing is steady and at times non-stop, the action is overwhelming and the character interaction scenes are thrilling and well performed. My only criticism of this film is the scene set in Tangier where Bond and Madeline Swann visit a hotel and stay the night, for me this scene slows down, there’s no injection of intrigue or tension, it genuinely feels like a pit stop for Bond to have a rest after his long day of chasing and fighting. But that’s it, everything else works and boy it’s spectacular, I am still gleaming with joy a day after viewing and I am planning to watch it again.
I must mention the moment that caused me to completely geek-out. There were rumours and a lot of speculation, but still came as a surprise when Franz Oberhauser reveals his true identity is actually Ernst Stavro Blofeld, I let out an unusual squeal of shock and joy, I had made a few bets before seeing this that Oberhauser was actually Blofeld and I was right, what a reveal! During the finale, he reveals his scars after an explosion and it echoes the same look of Blofeld back in 1967’s You Only Live Twice, small touches like this make Spectre so satisfying. Christoph Waltz is very menacing and teasing as Oberhauser, he was born to play a Bond villain and his line delivery is so chilling and dominating, and the twist showing he killed Bond’s Dad was mind blowing! His first appearance at the funeral is so haunting, accompanied by the soundtrack heard in Skyfall, another touch that worked so well was reusing part of Skyfall’s score. As for Dave Bautista, what an awesome performance, he is brutal, using his expressions and physicality to tear up the screen and knock the living daylights out of Bond. Every time he appeared I cheered a little, knowing some epic showdown was coming and that’s what he delivers.
There are so many odes to previous 007 films, whether they were intentional or not I couldn’t help but notice similarities to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only and You Only Live Twice. The base on the mountain top, Blofeld’s appearance and behaviour and the helicopter chase all echo the past. This is perfect for long time fans! Daniel Craig is again on top form, steely, witty, tough and superb as 007, I’m going to miss him when the role is handed over. As expected, Naomie Harris absolutely nails it as Moneypenny, playing off Craig’s banter and delivering some top lines and chemistry, she is magnificent and I like how her character is used as a mole. Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear and Ben Whishaw are incredible in their roles, whilst Dench will always be the best M, Fiennes is certainly making the role his own, as with Kinnear getting more screen time as Tanner with is great and Whishaw having a blast a Q. The comedy aspects in this film work finely, I laughed a lot during Spectre.
The Bond girls are unforgettable. Stephanie Sigman, the first ever Mexican Bond girl, makes a short but sexy and very stylish appearance as Estrella, she has one line if I remember correctly but even so she makes her small role worthy, I'd like to see more of her in films. Lea Seydoux, a very talented actress making big waves in films like Blue Is The Warmest Colour, knocks it out the park as Dr. Madeline Swann, a Bond girl who can more than look after herself, claiming she doesn't need Bond and proves that's true! Seydoux is tremendous when it comes to emoting and peeling back the layers of her character, best seen when a video of her Father committing suicide is played in front of her. However, for me the best flame in Spectre is Lucia Sciarra, played by the magnificent Monica Bellucci, more of a Bond woman than girl, her chunk of the film is arguably the best thanks to her ability. Bellucci portrays a woman who knows she is going to die very soon, the scene of her having one last drink in the garden before death is masterful.
Thanks to a host of memorable characters and a seriously satisfying story, Spectre's action sequences feel fleshed out, exciting and grounded, not just thrown in to make a semblance of story. This film is utterly loaded with mind-blowing action. The opening sequence in Mexico is mammoth, the buzz for this scene has me going around and it has been worth waiting for, what other film offers a helicopter performing three hairpin turns mid-air!? The car chase in Rome is fierce, you can feel the engines roaring as the supercars drift through the streets, I was gripping on the arms of my chair. Sam Mendes knows how to direct action, his golden moment is the mountain escape in which Bond flies a plane through a barn house in the most spectacularly epic fashion, it is ridiculously awesome. With a bucketload more chaos and one of the biggest bad-guy-base explosions ever, Spectre has it all!
Bond shows no signs of slowing down. I can't wait to see where the series goes now, we have had the pleasure of Casino Royale rebooting and saving the franchise, the furious revenge driven story of Quantum Of Solace, the haunting atmosphere and grand scale of Skyfall and now we are at Spectre, Sam Mendes has said he won't do another Bond. He should know he has done this series a wonder, and I can't wait to experience Bond 24 yet again.