After marking 50 years of Bond with the spectacle that was Skyfall, Sam Mendes had a big job ahead of him topping it with the next instalment. It is with great pleasure that I can say that Spectre fulfilled the high expectations that I had, delivering almost everything I could possibly want from a Bond film.
It’s an interesting setup that allowed for multiple nods backwards, but I couldn’t help but notice the lack of references to Quantum of Solace. Characters and plot points are mentioned, but aren’t used nearly as heavily as characters from the other two films. This is hardly surprising, given the complete lack of memorable characters in Craig’s second outing.
Daniel Craig returns as Bond, and is once again on top form, a delicate balance of suave charm and dry, sarcastic arrogance. Here more than ever Bond comes across as obnoxious, but never unlikeable. It’s a tough line to walk, but Craig pulls it off marvellously.
He is supported by a strong cast, featuring Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista and Andrew Scott, as well as familiar faces Ralph Feinnes, Ben Whishaw and Naomi Harris, who reprise their roles as M, Q and Moneypenny.
Whilst the entire cast performs strongly, the standout is Christoph Waltz. He isn’t quite as memorable as Javier Bardem’s Silva (at least until his true identity is revealed), however Waltz is a delight to watch as the villain, playing the role with a sadistic glee that’s truly a joy to behold. Anyone familiar with the older Bond films will pick up on various clues – if the title of the film hasn’t given it away already – to a “twist” at the end of the second act, which is dramatic, if a little predictable.
The action scenes are also on point here. After an explosive introduction to rival the traintop battle from Skyfall, Spectre takes off around the world, showcasing gunfights, fistfights and car chases, all of which had me on the edge of my seat. This is definitely the biggest Bond yet in terms of ambition and scale.
One particular scene, in which Bautista’s character chases Bond around the streets of Rome in one of the best car sequences I’ve seen in a long time, stands out because it is a perfect example of Mendes’ ability to mix action and humour without any overshadowing the other. Seeing Bond attempt to work a car he knows nothing about, talking to Moneypenny about her personal life, and being stuck behind elderly drivers, all the while being hunted mercilessly was hilarious and exciting at the same time.
Rumours have been floating around for a while now about this being Daniel Craig’s final film as
Bond, and the ending certainly seems to confirm that. Without spoiling anything, many things happen that seem to be symbolic of Craig hanging stepping out of the finely polished shoes and passing the torch. It does well at wrapping up his era as the iconic spy.
If Spectre truly is Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007, Craig and Mendes have served up an explosive finale to Craig’s stint, and ensured that nobody will forget him. This is undoubtedly one of the best Bond films yet, and secures Daniel Craig as a hero that will be missed from the franchise. There’s so much more to say, I could go on forever, so I’ll simply say this – go and see this for yourself. Spectre is truly SPECT(RE)ACULAR! (I’m sorry.)