Spectre was always going to be an interesting creation. How on earth could Sam Mendes top the thrilling, intelligent and overall gob-smacking service for her majesty that was Skyfall? Surely the comparisons would be a shot in the face – and it is a painful admission that as a stand-alone film Spectre doesn’t quite match its predecessor. However, it is also significantly different, and hugely enjoyable in its own right, as everything people have come to love about Bond over the last 63 years comes to a head.
If Skyfall was about how Daniel Craig’s macho-man was losing his touch, Spectre is about taking Bond back to his roots and cementing him once again as a gentleman of action. Confirming to the audience, and to Bond, exactly who he is. The new release is crammed with references to the Bond films of old – the mountaintop health centre looks suspiciously like the facility in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” once again Bond has to beat up a massive tough guy on a train in the form of a tight-lipped Dave Bautista, and of course there is the iconic Aston Martin DB5. That is just a few.
Spectre delivers some exhilarating action sequences mixed with the slickness of Craig’s humour and wit (a very funny point is when he learns there is a bar which doesn’t serve alcohol. The look on his face is priceless). The pre-credits opening in Mexico city is especially impressive, from the never-ending tracking shots to the visuals and the launch into the stunning octopus-laden title sequence. In fact, the only dip in the first 20 minutes or so is the song – its fine, but a Bond song has to be more than fine. Adele’s was a spine tingling, loud and passionate melancholy. By comparison, Sam Smith’s effort sounds out of place and difficult to really appreciate with the 007 labelling.
But ignore that minor detail. If you love Bond, you will love Spectre. Be in no doubts.
Craig looks more in control than ever, dominating the camera and the dialogue. Ralph Fiennes’ M, Ben Wishaw’s Q and Naomi Harris’ Moneypenny provide stellar support. Fiennes, in particular, has a sub-plot almost worthy of a movie in itself, and gives the film a hint of the genuine debate about the future of surveillance.
This leap into the modern era of Bond is undoubtedly satisfying. It somehow manages to tie all the films after Casino Royale together into one complex but fascinating web – even if there is a distinct lack of reference to Quantum of Solace. Old characters re-emerge, histories are uncovered, memories evoked. Bond has to confront his memories while maintaining his tough exterior.
Spectre is a triumph. To come out of the shadow of the most successful British box-office film of all time is an achievement not to be sneered at. Mendes once again takes a molehill and makes a mountain. As a label for the UK, for British cinema and just exactly what the hell Bond should mean to us all, Spectre has everything you could possibly need. See it.