The twenty-fourth Bond film is at long last here. Daniel Craig returns for his fourth adventure as 007. Spectre has come in with a fair amount of expectation considering the success of its predecessor Skyfall. Does Spectre measure up as one of the top tier Bond films? Or is it among the ranks of Diamonds Are Forever, Octopussy or A View To A Kill?
First things first. Spectre gets an automatic 1.5 points out of 5 from me simply because we have the iconic gun barrel back to open the film. I was fine with the creative method they used in Casino Royale but after Quantum of Solace and Skyfall both placed it at the end, I got worried that this would be the future. Thankfully that was not the case and Bond begins proper once again. Let’s add another 0.5 for the excellent pre title sequence. Most notably the opening shot of the Day of the Dead. I am not a fan of Thomas Newman’s scores for either this or Skyfall, yet the music for this first 3 minutes is brilliant. And the cinematography, while it is not Roger Deakins is very well done as well during this scene.
How do you follow up Skyfall? This was a question on everyone’s mind going in. Skyfall brought new audiences to the series and it saw a financial success it had never seen before. However to Bond regulars like myself, it did not feel like a Bond film. A common train of thought was that Skyfall is a great film, not a great Bond film. I think this thought reflects my thinking as I loved Skyfall but it would not rank in my top 10 as seen on this page previously. Spectre attempts to satisfy both parties regarding this matter. The audience who wants a more light and traditional Bond film and those who enjoy the introspection and examination of Bond that began with Casino Royale.
The problem is that in trying to serve 2 masters, Spectre ends up serving none. One thing it does have going for it is that is the most traditional Bond of the Daniel Craig era. You have Bond, a girl, a villain, his henchman and a big lair. Also car chases that unlike Quantum of Solace you can actually follow. It references the series history. Almost too much at times. I literally sat in my seat and could match up movie to movie. I think it was at least 5 references to past films.
A negative I have about the film is that it really seemed lazily written. This results in the split personality the film has. It does not know if it wants to be like an old school Bond film or a deeper study such as Skyfall or Casino Royale. But one thing that the latter film has is balance of those elements and Spectre did not achieve that. Also what was lazy is tying the Craig era into 1 overarching story. I don’t believe they were written like that with the exception of Quantum after Casino, but it makes no impact on the film because it didn’t feel like a build up to this moment. Also it was way too long with moments that really felt inconsequential. I’m sure 20 minutes could have been shaved off for a leaner product.
As far as acting goes Daniel Craig is fine as expected as Bond. He has a few more quips this time around. Lea Seydoux as Madeline Swann was fine as well. Even though there could have been more of her. It seemed like there was a start to develop her a bit more but then it moves on we never really get too much of her. Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx was a fearsome force equal to Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me. There is a great fight scene with him and Bond and Swann on a train akin to From Russia with Love. Yet the end of that fight is basically a slide whistle moment from The Man with the Golden Gun. Lastly Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser. A man shrouded by mystery that’s part of Bond’s past. Honestly I wasn’t surprised by the film’s reveal here, but like the rest of the film it’s so blah in execution it could see it coming. Waltz, when actually given screen time of which there wasn’t much, is just as charismatic and engaging as he was in Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained.
Spectre is no where in the bottom tier of Bond films. It does not belong with Diamonds are Forever, Octopussy, A View to a Kill or Die Another Day. But for me I guess it’s in the middle. It tried to walk a line, but got its footprints all over both sides of the line.
Final Rating (3 out of 5) – Too long, fine acting, predictable moments, all over the place tone wise, great action scenes (particularly the pre title scene), played like a Bond greatest hits album.