Spectre (2015) is thrilling entertainment

If you liked Skyfall, and want more of the same, then Spectre will not disappoint. Like Skyfall, it carries on with the more serious and semi-realistic tone of the Craig Bond movies, but with an appropriate injection of humour and nostalgic references to older Bond films. One particular throwback moment I enjoyed was a reprieve of the famous “hello, Pussy” line from Goldfinger.

The film’s greatest strength lies in its action sequences, its humour, and its tone. It feels like classic Bond in many ways, and embodies a nice mixture of novelty and well-loved old tropes. The opening sequence, featuring a stunning tracking shot, atmospheric Mexican drums, costumes and architecture, and a thrilling fight on board an out-of-control helicopter, is quite possibly the best Bond opening ever made. Every other action scene is also thrilling and spectacular. One little scene, involving a half-asleep Bond jokingly pretending to interrogate a mouse that crawled into the bedroom, is a welcome example of the sprinkles of humour that this film occasionally employs to its benefit.

The lovely Lea Seydoux is beautiful and stunning as Madeleine Swann, a woman who is sexy and sophisticated while also coming across as intelligent and self-respecting rather than a mere piece of eye candy. She is definitely among the most beautiful Bond girls ever. Craig is also in good physical form, especially considering his age of 47, as is Monica Bellucci at 51, making her the oldest Bond girl ever.

Christoph Waltz casts a formidable, albeit under-utilized presence as the main villain of the film. His presence haunts the entire movie, but he lurks in the shadows, barely present until the final act. His role as the villain is not quite as memorable as that of Javier Bardem in Skyfall, largely due to his lack of screen-time. It would have been better to have him seen more. I feel like he will play a bigger role in the next Bond film, and they’re merely teasing us with his presence in this one. Nevertheless, given the tendency of Bond films not to follow through on previous threads (remember Quantum, anyone?), it would’ve felt better to develop him more here rather than assuming that he will be developed more later.

From this point on, beware; here be spoilers. Not blatant spoilers, but barely-veiled ones that most people could figure out from simply reading what I have to say.

The film’s weakness is in its attempt to give Bond a Star Wars or Harry Potter-esqe mythology dating back to Bond’s childhood years, as well as giving new context to the events of previous three Bond films. Bond doesn’t feel like the right franchise for this sort of backstory, considering the transitory nature of the episode-to-episode plotting of the franchise, where even the main actor doesn’t stay the same, never mind the plot continuity. The ending revelation comes as somewhat tacked-on.

Even the crucial moment of the unveiling of the villain’s identity harkens back to the similarly gratuitous moment of the villain’s identity being revealed in Star Trek Into Darkness. In both cases, it feels like all the secrecy in the marketing campaign and in the first two acts of the film was unnecessary, and it would have been better to simply say his name from the get-go. These revelations feel like lame attempts at a “what a twist!” moment, by presenting a very predictable revelation as if it is something that the audience would never expect.

One other minor quibble I have is that the film’s best joke (about a character nicknamed with the initial “C”) was ruined by a last-second attempt to bring it back into “clean joke” territory, when it really should’ve just stayed with the original “dirty” implication.

Lately, we have been inundated with a plethora of spy flicks. In a year with five spy adventure films (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Spy, Spectre as well as arguably six if you count Furious 7), it’s an increasingly competitive marketplace for the venerable 007. But in terms of having a fun time at the movies, you can’t go wrong with Spectre. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel—but it really doesn’t have to. It’s an entertaining action movie and a worthy film in the Bond canon.

 

7.5/10

By James Popkie

Image source: themovieblog.com


James Popkie is an avid lover of cinema, travel, novel writing, and pseudo-intellectual discussions about random obscure topics. He is a copy editor at OTD. When he’s not traveling across Europe or the Americas he is usually reading or writing something. He enjoys fiction and non-fiction in equal measures.

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