And so it’s that time of the year when the James Bond movie comes around and everyone starts to kick up a fuss about it not being PC, it’s had its day, he’s a sexist misogynist etc, etc. I had all the intentions of not talking about any of that, except it’s kind of hard not to. Let me explain.
Sam Mendes is back in the director’s chair with John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade all returning to Bond for screenplay and story writing duties, joined this time by Jez Butterworth (Black Mass, Edge of Tomorrow). In my experience having too many writing credits on a film generally doesn’t bode well…
Daniel Craig returns as the British spy this time facing off against Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglorious Basterds) who you think ‘why hasn’t he been a Bond villain before? What took them so long?’ Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel) is back as M, Ben Whishaw (Perfume, Cloud Atlas) as Q and Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean, 28 Days Later) as Moneypenny. Waltz is joined in his gang by Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Andrew Scott (Sherlock) as C.
Lea Seydoux (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inglorious Basterds) plays the love interest, as does the brilliant and criminally underused (as in sneeze and you’ll miss her) Monica Bellucci.
The story will be familiar for those of you who have seen Skyfall, Bond is still a bit rogue hunting down someone or something. M is trying to stop him, Whishaw and Harris trying to help him, Bautista trying to kill him and Waltz just generally doing what he does so amazingly: being menacing, unflinching and generally getting where Bond doesn’t want him to be.
I don’t mean to describe the story in such a throw away manner (unlike Craig who, throughout the film, is throwing things away. It’s just odd, I think every scene he’s throwing something away, be it paper, bits of rubble, a gun) it’s just that if you go along to a Bond movie expecting something in depth or ground breaking I’d suggest you’re in the wrong film. We’ve come to expect that the action, the chases, the henchman and the bad-guys will add to the story and, yes, the girls. And it’s here where I start to see the points of other reviewers.
Monica Bellucci is an amazing actor, that shouldn’t be in question, but the manner in which she’s used in this film is just shocking. No sooner has Bond met the grieving widow then they’re in bed together (at which point she goes from naked to wearing a corset?). Seydoux isn’t much different. Given what Bond has done to these women’s husbands or fathers it’s amazing how quickly they jump into bed with him, despite both saying that’s the last thing they’d do. I’m not saying this is that much different from any Bond movie that’s gone previously. It’s not. However it seems that much more obvious in Spectre for some reason. Maybe it’s getting a fine actor such as Bellucci and then getting her to say all of ten words!
Putting that to one side and what are we left with? Well we have a Bond movie with great potential that doesn’t quite hit it for me. There seemed to be more attempts at humour in Spectre than say Skyfall. Some of which were good however others just seemed to be at the wrong point. Bautista’s character for example is mute throughout the film. When his one and only word does come it’s at the end of a long fight scene and it’s supposed to be a chuckle, I guess, but it takes away from the fight, almost making light of it. Particular as this is then when Bond beds his next victim, I mean, woman.
Talking of action sequences the opening one, a staple of the Bond movies, is simply brilliant. Really very well put together. If you like your helicopters, you’ll love Spectre as there’s a lot of brilliant stunts involving them. Obviously the cars get an airing though it’s a little light for me in that regard. Fight scenes and chase sequences are well put together, well directed and, in stunning IMAX detail, really put you in the scene.
I’ve seen a few ‘quotes’ saying this is the best Bond yet. I’m a lifelong Bond fan I grew up watching them with my father and I have to say I disagree. It’s a good addition and better than a lot, but it’s not the best ever.