Sam Mendes once again takes on the directorial duties in Spectre after the hugely successful and popular Skyfall. Immediately he puts on one of his trademark on display, with an amazing long shot for the start of the opening gambit. The camera follows Bond from the busy carnival marching through the streets of Mexico City, into a building nearby, to the lift, room, and on the rooftop. The scene is shot so seamlessly that you will have been totally immersed and absorbed by the sequence. Naturally as with Bond’s opening gambits, all hell soon breaks loose ending in a building collapse and a harrowing helicopter ride flying dangerously close to the festive crowd below. Before we can catch our breathe, Sam Smith’s voice comes on with another haunting Bong theme song “The Writing on the Wall”.
Daniel Criag’s Bond movies have redefined and upped the standards of the opening gambits that are so outlandish and exciting, they feel like little movies of their own and rival most other action movies’ climax scenes. Spectre’s story pays tribute to the original novels by Ian Felming with the introduction to the international terrorist organisation that is called SPECTRE, and the villain heading this, Blofeld (played by Christoph Waltz). Indeed, many of the early Bond movies have Blofeld and his organisation Spectre as the common recurring enemy. In the Connery films, Blofeld is seen as a bald headed man always well dressed and calm, and always stroking a white furry cat on his lap. Here, the cat has a much smaller presence and only made a brief appearance. Spectre also serves to tie in all the Daniel Craig Bond movies into one grand finale as Blofeld taunts Bond with a revelation that linked him to all his previous assignments, including the deaths of numerous people close to Bond. In addition, Bond is given a love interest in the form of Madeline (played by Lea Seydoux) the daughter of one of his nemesis, that seems to be serious enough for him to consider a happily ever after scenario.
All this makes Spectre feel like it is the swan song for Daniel Craig as Bond, but of course we realise this is not quite correct with the new No Time To Die coming as Bond #25.
As a Bond movie, Spectre felt a bit underwhelming in comparison to its predecessors. Somehow the dialogue here seem less witty, and action sequences (apart from the opening gambit), appear less than outstanding. The night car chase sequence in the streets of Rome for example, was devoid of the usual unexpected twists and turns that we have come to expect from Bond. Instead it felt like they were driving within the speed limit and avoiding any damages to the historical buildings in Rome. On the plus side, it was exciting to see the minor characters like gadgets expert Q, Moneypenny and the new M, get involved in some of the field work, and finding themselves in a vulnerable position that threatened their lives for a change.
Lea Seydoux plays her role cool and looked amazing. Both she and Bond were so naturally beautiful together, that they effortlessly and dutifully put on display the various product placements like pros. Product placements were aplenty with the likes of Tom Ford sunglasses, and trench coats, Omega watches, and luxury cars from Rolls Royce, Aston Martin and Mercedes Benz.
Dave Bautista played one of the baddies, a heavy named Hinx who doesn’t get to speak one word until his last scene where he utters “SHI*!”. It was quite hilarious but alas his villain somehow never really felt that much of a treat despite his built and menacing presence. I felt it was a little under written and under developed and could have been more memorable.
For me, Spectre is Daniel Craig’s poorest entry in his four movies as Bond so far. I am looking forward to what looks like his last outing as Bond in Bond #25 No Time To Die and hope that he gets to leave with a bang. He will surely be a very tough act to follow for whoever will be taking on the iconic role in the future.