Rated PG-13 (for sequences of action and violence, sensuality and language)
When Daniel Craig was first cast as the famous British spy, there was an outcry from the movie-going public. Now, four movies in, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role. The 24th movie in the double-O franchise offers another peek at the past of James Bond, while at the same time managing to neatly tie all the movies featuring Craig’s Bond together.
Without giving away too many spoilers, the main storyline of SPECTRE is set into motion when Bond receives a posthumous message from Judi Dench‘s M. Following her instructions, he soon discovers and infiltrates a shadowy organisation known as SPECTRE. Bond soon finds that not only is this organisation responsible for the events that occurred in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, but that Bond himself has a deep personal connection to the leader of the organisation (Christoph Waltz). To further complicate matters the Head of the Joint Security Service, Max Denbeigh (Andrew Scott), is determined to shut down the double-0 program, which he finds obsolete. As Bond races to prevent SPECTRE’s goal of taking over the world’s centralised surveillance platform, he also enlists the help of Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw) and the new M (Ralph Fiennes).
As is the Modus Operandi of the Bond films, SPECTRE starts off with a bang, taking us to Mexico City, during the celebration of the Day of the Dead. Thousands of costumed extras and elaborate floats, dancing together to a bassy, thumping percussion, provide a back-drop to Bond chasing a quarry in a long continuous shot through the streets of Mexico, up through the roof-tops and culminating in a helicopter sequence that is loaded with action. It is a great start to the movie, if a little marred by some sub-par CG effects here and there.
This is just one of the many high octane sequences that take up the 2 hours and 28 minutes of the film, but while the action beats abound, there are a lot of dialogue heavy scenes as well that could have been removed or trimmed from the film without detracting from the story-line. Monica Belluci‘s character is nothing more than a cameo, and her character is just another notch in Bond’s belt rather than being a fully rounded character. SPECTRE’s second Bond girl, Lea Seydoux as Madeline Swann has a more fleshed out role, but there were times where I wished some of her scenes had been more finely tuned in the editing room.
The villains of the movie do a good job, with Dave Bautista being appropriately menacing as the lumbering, silent assassin Mr Hinx and Christoph Waltz bringing his trademark dry humour to his character, a dark figure in the shadows, almost bordering on becoming a caricature. On his own, Waltz would have been a perfectly adequate bad guy, however when compared to Javier Bardem‘s Silva in Skyfall, he just can’t compete.
If Casino Royale was a reinvigoration of the Bond franchise, grounding it in dark and gritty realism, then SPECTRE is the return of Bond to the realm of quippy one-liners and over-the-top action that will have you thinking “Did they really do that?”. There is one set-piece utilising a plane amongst chalets in the Alps that has to be seen to be believed. Throw in scenes where over-powered cars race through Rome and others where men battle through a luxury train, and you have a film that will appeal to the adrenaline junkie who also likes a bit of sophistication.
If I were to rank the films featuring Craig’s Bond, I would place SPECTRE third with Skyfall first and Casino Royale second. This is not a disparagement to SPECTRE, but rather a testament to how good the previous films were.
Another enjoyable romp featuring one of the finest of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, SPECTRE is a worthy addition to the Bond mythology.
I give SPECTRE a 7 out of 10.