WARNING! THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN SPECTRE!
To say I was excited about the release of Spectre would be an unholy understatement. With one notable exception (looking at you, JJ Abrams), 2015’s cinema would, for me, be defined purely by Spectre and its performance at the box office. As a lifelong Bond fan, I was naturally apprehensive about the new movie; worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype its predecessor, Skyfall, had created.
It seems I had nothing to worry about.
In short, Spectre is every good aspect of Daniel Craig’s previous outings as 007 mixed in with what made classic Bond so enticing. It retains the episodic structure we saw in Quantum of Solace with frequent references back to previous movies but also excels on its own with a new story and excellent directing. Sam Mendes has since become a living legend in British cinema, having directed the two most recent Bond movies with a constant degree of success.
Going into more detail, Spectre shines through its more humorous take on the character, harking back to the sharp-tongued 007 we’d not yet seen in Craig. It also follows a cohesive story, something Sam Mendes has succeeded in doing twice now. Other highlights include the return of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond’s most infamous villain and the incredible opening scene set during Día de Muertos in Mexico City.
While Craig is a truly excellent actor and pulls off the hardened, unemotional determination of an assassin, I’ve always felt like he’s lacked something. In particular, I’ve felt his tough exterior, although perfectly portrayed, has left the character without humor or the ability to crack a line like his earlier iterations had. Fortunately, the writers of Spectre seem to have picked up on this and have given Bond the charm that had been missing in recent films. With a penchant for irritating authority, James Bond has become a far more interesting character this time around, able to hold a scene alone without the need of a comedy relief character.
The return of Blofeld, although somewhat predictable, was an absolute treat. As 007’s equivalent of The Joker, Blofeld defined the early Bond films and has since been parodied dozens of times, standing as a testament to his notoriety. Personally, I felt Christoph Waltz owned the role, perfectly portraying both the evil genius and dependent criminal aspects of the character. While I feel he may not have had the same presence as previous incarnations of the character, I’m very excited to see him in later installments of the franchise. It’s clear from the ending Blofeld has been set up as a recurring villain for Bond, so I doubt this’ll be the last we’ve seen of Waltz.
However, despite the fact I enjoyed it immensely, it still fell flat in a few areas. I felt Léa Seydoux failed to live up to previous Bond girls, particularly Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd, who set the bar extremely high. I felt Seydoux’s performance, although sound, didn’t bring anything new to the table and her role just felt very formulaic. It also felt slightly outdated, harking back to the Bond films of the sixties and seventies that gave little to no plot development to the femme fatale.
Additionally, I felt that the frequent references to Craig’s previous movies held Spectre back from being a truly outstanding hit. While I had seen all the previous movies and had no trouble following the plot, a friend of mine who also saw it had not seen any Bond movies beforehand and found herself lost on occasion. Skyfall, although being part of a single narrative, could be watched independently and required no prior knowledge of Daniel Craig’s Bond, which allowed it to flourish. Spectre relied heavily on anaphoric references to allow the story to progress and felt more like a sequel to Quantum of Solace than its own movie.
But, all in all, Spectre is a good movie. While it may not live up to the likes of Casino Royale or Skyfall, it’s definitely earned its place as one of Bond’s better outings. With a return to classic formula and an excellent lead, Spectre is definitely worth seeing.
Spectre is currently showing in theaters worldwide.