The twenty-fourth James Bond film ‘Spectre’ is the second in the series to be directed by Sam Mendes and boasts the fourth instalment of Daniel Craig’s mesmerising performance as 007.
Following on directly from ‘Skyfall’, the film presents a few significant changes – namely the absence of Dame Judi Dench as M – but its predecessor had paved the way beautifully for the next chapter of the story and so the foundations were already set for it to run its course.
The opening sequence, very much like the entire film, is spellbinding, intricate and inherently dark. Having become filmic spectacles in themselves in recent years, my hopes were high for Mendes’ second introduction and although I was very pleased with the sequence I didn’t feel it was the best that I have seen. Similarly, Sam Smith’s song ‘Writing on the Wall’ made an excellent theme tune but it just wasn’t quite as sensational as the famous Adele number which worked incredibly powerfully to communicate the nostalgic feel within ‘Skyfall’. Adopting the renowned formulaic structure that Ian Fleming’s Bond tales all follow, ‘Spectre’ begins explosively with an intensely dramatic scene kick-starting the events involved with the title criminal organisation. Ralph Fiennes plays the current M positively, but not as impressively as Dame Judi, demonstrating a less gripping power struggle with Bond and offering significantly less of the famous ‘banter’. In Fiennes’ defence though, could anyone fill Dame Judi’s shoes?
Christoph Waltz stars as one of several ‘Spectre’ villains, amongst many other recurring Bond characters and a few new roles too. New additions Dr Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) and Lucia Sciarra (Monica Belluci) ensure that the 2015 Bond girls are hotter than ever and the incredibly impressive Aston Martins are even more awesome this time around too. In fact, the car intended for 009 but naturally claimed by 007, is probably the most amazing I’ve seen. The fight scenes in ‘Spectre’ are even more theatrical than those of previous Bond films and the CGI is more daring than ever – sometimes too adventurous in that it looks incredible for 95% of the action-packed extracts with a mere 5% trying a little too hard for me personally. That said, I watched the film in 4K and the clarity really was excellent. Naturally, there are witty one-liners throughout the vibrant script and Q takes more precedence than he did in ‘Skyfall’ which I found particularly refreshing.
My favourite scene by far is the train scene in which Lea Seydoux delivers an excellent performance and somehow manages to seize the limelight from Daniel Craig if only for a few moments. My (close!) second is the epic car chase between Bond and Hinx. The acting and special effects in both of these scenes are absolutely brilliant, particularly as they are more believable than others (namely the high intensity and literally over-the-top helicopter scene that the film opens with). Daniel Craig’s performance is absolutely epic once again and he undoubtedly manages to grip the audience’s attention for the vast majority of each scene. I would also like to take this appreciative opportunity to point out how utterly incredible he looks in a white suit! Ahem, anyway – ‘Spectre’ has a good ending but a notably less spectacular conclusion than ‘Skyfall’. Ultimately, the question on everybody’s lips at the moment seems to be – is ‘Spectre’ better than ‘Skyfall’? The answer on mine unfortunately, is certainly no. ‘Spectre’ is good – very good – and there are in fact several elements of it that I prefer to ‘Skyfall’ such as the Bond girls, the shooting locations and the exploration of different characters. That said, for its narrative, its score, Bond’s backstory and Dame Judi Dench – ‘Skyfall’ definitely wins for me.