Spectre is the 24th official instalment of the James Bond series and the fourth starring Daniel Craig as Bond. Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012) saw worldwide praise as two of the greatest Bond films made.
The Daniel Craig era of Bond has awoken an edge that was never present, something away from just big set pieces and corny dialogue that made the series so beloved. Casino Royale and Skyfall, Quantum of Solace not so much, were so brilliantly tight with a darkness and tension that had never really been prominent in anything that had come before. And in many ways, Spectre feels like the obvious conclusion for the arch of ‘Craig Bond’, it is a shame however that it doesn’t hit the same notes as its predecessors.
What you do get from Spectre is a delight of audacious set pieces that really make an impression, something that many of the pre-Casino Royale films did rely on. And for much of the first half of the film these seemed like the build to a crescendo that would leave a satisfying punch.
The film opens strongly, in Mexico with Bond finding himself hunting a SPECTRE member surrounded by Day of the Dead festival goers, a scene that is visually beautiful. Amongst the flying car chases or helicopter stunts in the Austrian Alps you will find yourself in awe of the locations and action sequences.
The battle however is essentially between two men; Bond and Oberhauser. At the core of all the angst between the two is unfortunately, daddy issues. The underwhelming base plot line also removes this underlying tension and darkness we have come to expect. Unfortunately, Christoph Waltz’s quips and jovial insanity jeopardises the emotional core of the film and what it’s trying to accomplish.
For all of the fantastic sequences full of fast cars and helicopters, not much is said about why the creation of the Nine-Eyes intelligence program is such a bad thing. Sure, it probably has its flaws but nothing is actually stated, more a bunch of ‘We can’t let this happen’ or ‘It will ruin intelligence operations around the world.’ I don’t want a 10-minute scene of exposition, but something would’ve been nice seeing as it is at the forefront of the films narrative.
To go along with this move from the darker serious tone of ‘Craig’s Bond’ is one of the more ill fitting ‘baddies’ he has come across. SPECTRE, the organization, is one of the best and worst bits of the film with its wonderfully cheesy desert base and droid-esque computer workers. Along with silent henchman Mr. Hinx (David Bautista), the film has its moments of throwback glory.
Most of the blame for Spectre’s failings is in the script, not affecting the brilliant directorial work from Sam Mendes. Shining through it all are the films supporting cast. Léa Seydoux is charming as Dr. Madeleine Swann, and Ralph Fiennes’ M, Ben Whishaw’s Q and Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny feel more utilised than ever, admirable in more significant roles.
It’s Bond. Don’t be too concerned. If you love James Bond and everything that you know you’ll get, you won’t be too disappointed. Spectre feels anything but subtle, yet has these underlying throwbacks to its forefathers. Really these are a nice touch for Bond fans, Waltz’s character especially. If it is the last we see of Daniel Craig as Bond it will be a sad day, as this four film series had ushered in a new style for what Bond films can be going forward.
Spectre may not be Daniel Craig's best Bond. But it's still bloody Bond.