I went into this film telling myself “It’s not going to be SKYFALL, so don’t expect SKYFALL and you won’t be disappointed”. Because the last Bond film was a thing of beauty – smart script, sharp wit and absolutely stunning visually. The action was stylish and engrossing, the story emotional. 5 out of 5, easily.
So it would be unreasonable to expect the same from SPECTRE, and I truly didn’t. But I still managed to have a mild sense of letdown as the credits rolled.
SPECTRE is absolutely not a bad movie and there is a lot to enjoy about it. Daniel Craig is, as always, bloody brilliant. Mendes is fantastic when it comes to pacing, and you don’t nearly feel the movie’s lengthy two-and-a-half hour duration. It’s action-packed, sporadically funny and overall exciting to watch. But that doesn’t mean it’s not lacking in other ways.
The film kicks off on a strong note with Bond in Mexico as their Dia de Muertos parade and celebrations are in full swing. Chasing a mysterious assassin, things quickly get out of control (naturally): a building is levelled, a helicopter goes careening through the air narrowly missing partygoers…and the agent, who wasn’t even supposed to be there in the first place, is grounded by a stern M (Ralph Fiennes) on his return to London.
We soon find out what it is that has Bond on this super-secret, self-assigned mission, and with a little coaxing, 007 is able to convince Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to join him…or at least look the other way as he goes about his noble but forbidden business. His quest eventually leads him to an unexpected villain (played by Christoph Waltz), with whom Bond shares a long-standing connection.
Along the way, we meet Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux, of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL). All I can say about Swann is that Bond’s obsession with her will likely far exceed that of most audiences. She’s not even close to being the best Bond girl in this film – as a side note, kudos to Mendes and his fellow filmmakers for casting 51-year old Monica Bellucci as Lucia, with whom Bond has a signature steamy romp. It’s no secret that that’s almost unheard of in Hollywood these days…and it’s a shame.
Unfortunately, the 30-year old wins out and she’s rather a bore.
SPECTRE has a lot of throwbacks to previous Bond films – both in content and style – and it’s not always a good thing. The action sequences come off as elaborate and cheesy, reminiscent of the franchise’s earlier efforts. But once you’ve had a taste of how “believable” the polished updates could be (not to go back there again, but, ahem, SKYFALL), it’s an odd, even unwelcome, sensation to go backwards. Perhaps the filmmakers were going for a sense of nostalgia, but it ends up being both too much and too little all at the same time.
Bottom line is that while SPECTRE may satisfy the itch for one last round with Daniel Craig as 007, it would have been nice to see him go out on a much higher note than this film leaves you with.
SPECTRE opens in theatres Friday, November 6.