“Mom! Netflix are at it again making their own shows! Mom, tell them!” Wait though, shock, horror, this time it’s actually a film instead of a series. Not only that, but they’ve made it in conjunction with legendary global entertainment company, Legendary.
The premise of Spectral is about as simple as it gets. A man called Clyne, James Badge Dale (The Departed, World War Z), is dispatched to Moldova where he is asked to look at some ‘weird shit’ that his military goggles have picked up. On landing he is shown footage from a special ops team who have picked up some strange, ghost-like figures on his goggles. The CIA think it’s advanced cloaking, the military see it as a problem, Clyne wants more information. And so, having had no combat training, ever, he joins a team of special ops on a mission to find out more. Also, he brings a bloody big camera with him that he just so happened to have brought and that just so happens to fit on the vehicles they go out in.
“Mom! That man’s being cynical in his reviews again! Mom, tell him!” Sorry, I apologise. The thing is. We’re told all the time that Netflix have a lot of money. We’ve seen the cash they’ve spent on all these series they have bought and made themselves. So why oh why would you then produce a film that has about as much originality as a Melania Trump speech? I just don’t get it.
They’ve done their best, bless them. They’ve pulled in a couple of reasonable hitters from the acting world. We have Emily Mortimer (Shutter Island, Hugo) as the CIA agent, Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek, I, Robot) as the General and Max Martini (Fifty Shades of Grey, Captain Phillips) as the Captain with the script written by George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum, Ocean’s Twelve). However, they can’t save what is a padded out short story.
At this point you are probably expecting me to write it off, tell you to avoid watching it, right? Well no, not quite. You see, Netflix are quite clever in that, if you have a subscription already, why wouldn’t you watch something? Not like you have to pay more for it.
So whilst I certainly wouldn’t recommend purchasing a subscription just to see Spectral, if you already have one and can’t find anything that tickles your fancy, then why not? Go for it. Switch off for a couple of hours – which is also another problem, it’s too long at nearly two-hours – and have a little fun. The effects, evidently where the budget has gone, are actually good (done by WETA).
The acting and story might be what we’d have called ‘straight to video’ in the old days, but it’s one of those ‘straight to videos’ you don’t begrudge having paid for and if you’ve already paid for your subscription, winner.