After a gap of 3 years, Spectre, the latest James Bond adventure, is finally out. It's bigger, badder, and more action packed. But does that necessarily mean it is better? Let's find out.
While following a lead in Mexico City, Agent 007 James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) finds a ring that connects him to the mysterious organization, Spectre. Accompanied by Q (Ben Whishaw), Moneypenny (Naomi Harris), and Dr. Swan (Lea Sedoux), Bond is forced to confront his past while in pursuit of Spectre. And the whole affair, it's fine.
Spectre is competent in terms of direction, acting, and technical aspects. Sam Mendes seems to have taken a different approach to his direction, letting go of his more artsy and methodical style in favor of an old-Bond, blockbuster-esque style. However, this transition of style makes it seem less like a director's film per se and more like a production company's product. The cinematography by Hoyte Van Hoytema is lush and is particularly brilliant in the conversational scenes, where the use of lighting lends a sort of intimacy. However, one does get the feeling that the cinematography is monochromatic compared to that of Skyfall. Daniel Craig, at the ripe old age of 47, is still great as James Bond, still bringing a great energy to the role. Lea Sedoux is also excellent as Dr. Swan. Ralph Fiennes as M should also get a special mention for his performance. All others like Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris, Andrew Scott, Monica Belluci and Dave Bautista are serviceable. However, the biggest attraction of Spectre are its action scenes, and boy, are they amazing! They are excellently filmed, high octane, and also many of them were surprisingly innovative. Also, Spectre introduces many new emotional facets of Bond's character.
Unlike Skyfall and Casino Royale, Spectre never builds a true emotional foundation and never shows enough of Bond's emotional journey. This mitigates the audience's emotional involvement in Bond's physical journey throughout the movie. There was so much potential, but it never gets to that level. A reverence and loyalty to old-Bond formula seems to have taken precedence in this outing of Bond, which I feel hurts the movie more than it helps it. In 2015, many pastiche Bond knockoffs like Kingsman and Man from U.N.C.L.E already tried to resurrect their own versions of the old-Bond formula, and in my opinion, if this new iteration of Bond had instead focused more on Bond's emotional journey like Skyfall and Casino Royale, it would have given this movie more of an identity in the context of the spy movie genre. Also, I never really bought Bond and Dr. Swan's romantic relationship. Certain scenes occur where the audience is supposed to care for this relationship, but instead these scenes come off as inorganic and awkward. Overall, I felt that the writing and the character development of supporting characters were slipshod and needed more cohesion. Speaking of character development, Christophe Waltz's Blofeld was a major disappointment. When he was first introduced, I thought that he was going to be another kickass villain like Le Chiffre and Silva, but with the disappointing finale, he never makes an impression, which is a shame because I know that Christophe Waltz had so much potential to become an amazing Bond villain.
Though it seems like I am complaining more about Spectre than praising, I really did enjoy this movie. This movie is definitely for those who enjoy the old-Sean Connery-type Bond films with the over-the-top action. However, for people looking for a little more than that, Spectre leaves a lot to be desired.
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars