Once again James Bond is back on the big screen, headed by the twin powers of Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes who took the franchise to new financial heights with Bond 23, Skyfall. With an ongoing plot that needs a payoff, high expectations and an overblown budget, there was a sense of trepidation heading into a film that could be a tank. Thankfully despite some average reviews, Spectre does everything it needs to do and is packed with some classic Bond cheek and white knuckle set pieces.
After the death of M and Vesper Lynd, Bond is still hunting the mysterious criminal organisation Spectre to find answers and seek some vengeance. Having rediscovered a trail in Mexico CIty while thwarting a bombing, Bond finds his way to a funeral and a special meeting before the real classic Bond around the world travelling starts. There has been a specific effort to hide much of the plot and detail for the film and I think for anyone who wants to see it, going in with a fresh brain is the best way to do it.
This is a classic James Bond film. It is the combination of gritty Craig era films with a bit more of the dumb luck cheese from Roger Moore and classic class from Connery. This is a film that will appeal to Bond diehards, there are nods to classic villains and as they progress the story they have been true to canon while also adding a modern twist to keep Bond from feeling like a relic. The first act is a huge set piece that builds and builds, setting the mood for a film that doesn’t spend much time between high adrenaline action which see’s Craig commandeering all manner of vehicle and weapon. Close hand to hand action is mixed with gun play and explosives in franticly shot flurries book ending chases in cars, helicopters and more. No wonder the film was over budget.
Sitting around 150 minutes, there is some fat in parts. As is the case with many Bond films, we have a romance that goes from 0 to 60 in one scene and it didn’t need to be in the film at all. With multiple storylines playing in the film and a full arc coming to the foreground, another romance was unnecessary and causes far too much time to be dedicated to chunky exposition and a character arc that is pointless and never really handled. Having not seen Lea Seydoux in many other films, she grew on me throughout, but never really popped like some other Bond girls.
The opening scene. Set during the Day Of The Dead in Mexico City, an average assassination turns to mass destruction and a particularly crazy helicopter ride. There is nothing better to make you forget about a hard day at work, a long ticket line and 30 minutes of ads than a chase scene that gets your blood pressure and heart rate to dangerous levels. By the time the opening credits roll you are ready for Bond once again.
If Spectre is Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, his record is the best of any of the actors to helm the franchise. Mendes has upped the stakes here and completed the story started in Casino Royale in a more than satisfactory way. This is a love letter to James Bond and a pleasure to watch for any espionage fan. It’s not perfect but it’s the thrill ride we all wanted.