Spectre (UK | USA/12A/148mins)
Directed by Sam Mendes. Starring Daniel Craig, Monica Bellucci, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Scott.
THE PLOT: After receiving a cryptic message from someone from his past, James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes rogue from MI6 to uncover the shadowy and evil organisation known as Spectre. Meanwhile, MI6 faces a new challenge from inside the government.
THE VERDICT: Sam Mendes’ second Bond film is the longest film of the franchise at 148 minutes, and although the locations are spectacular, the suits sharp and the gadgets gadgety, the film simply does not have enough momentum to justify the running time.
Daniel Craig returns to his sombre and dark role as James Bond, but actually gets some comedy in this new outing, which is a refreshing change. Léa Seydoux gives a strong but rather unremarkable performance as Madeleine Swann, and bland feeling is not the fault of the actress however, she is just never given anything with which to shine. Monica Bellucci and Chrisoph Waltz are criminally underused as Lucia Sciarra and Franz Oberhauser respectively, with neither really being given a chance to make their mark on the film. Andrew Scott turns up in a small enough role, but again, is sadly underused. Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Rory Kinnear all return, and Ralph Fiennes tries his best as M, but Judi Dench is sorely missed.
John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth’s screenplay tries its best to make nods to the early Bond films, with gadgets feeling delightfully retro, and an attempt to tie former villains from Craig’s tenure as Bond into the web woven by Spectre. It is this attempt to pay homage to the films that started it all, that leads to Spectre stumbling, and losing the bang it needed. The film meanders through several beautiful locations, but there are entire segments that don’t need to happen for the story to make sense, and these drag the momentum of the film, which gets off to a wonderful start, to a halt. As well as this, many characters are entirely underwritten, with others being over written to the point of falling flat.
Director Sam Mendes paces the first half of ‘Spectre’ incredibly well, with thrilling action chases and some nice insubordination from 007, but as soon as the organisation Spectre is introduced, the film begins to meander, and all the admittedly fantastic set pieces in the world don’t give the pacing the kick it needs. That said, there is a lot to enjoy in ‘Spectre’, with fantastic set pieces, stunning locations and plenty of quips and smirks from Craig in his most famous role. Sadly, cinematographer Roger Deakins did not return, a loss which is definitely felt, since ‘Skyfall’ was such a visual treat.
In all, ‘Spectre’ is a rambling, meandering film, which would be fine if this was not a James Bond outing where fast paced is the name of the game. Craig, Seydoux, Waltz and Scott are all fine, but the film is unevenly written, messy and slow. The set pieces are fun, however, and the suits sharp, but after the triumph of ‘Skyfall’, ‘Spectre’ just falls a little flat.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
3.0falls flat
  • filmbuff2011

    After the dizzy heights achieved by Sam Mendes with Skyfall, the next chapter in the Daniel Craig-era James Bond films was always going to be a tough challenge. Thankfully, the decision to seduce Mendes back by waiting for him to become available was a smart move on behalf of producers and keepers of the flame Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Spectre, or S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) depending on how you refer to it, is another well-balanced Bond film that weaves the past and the present to create something modern and relevant to today. In the pre-title sequence set during Mexico’s Day Of The Dead festival, Bond (Daniel Craig) retrieves a ring with an Octopus-like logo from an agent who tries to evade him. Given the destruction that Bond reigns on Mexico City, M (Ralph Fiennes) puts him under lockdown and asks Q (Ben Whishaw) to install a tracking device on Bond. The 00 section is coming under increasing scrutiny and may be soon become a thing of the past, thanks to new tech wizard Max (Andrew Scott), who thinks the spying of the future will be done remotely with drones and computers. With Q and Moneypenny’s (Naomie Harris) help, Bond evades detection and follows an information trail that leads him to Quantum / Spectre agent Mr White (Jesper Christensen). He trades information on the sinister organisation known as Spectre, in return for protecting his daughter Madeleine (Lea Seydoux). The real villain behind Spectre is one Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Franz has a deep connection with Bond and only the two of them know what that is… Given that Bond movies are often self-contained experiences, with little continuity, it’s refreshing to discover that Spectre gathers together all the plot threads from Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace and Skyfall to weave them into one overarching structure. Everything that has come before has lead up to this. Quantum Of Solace hinted at a Spectre-like organisation, but here we discover just who is really pulling the strings. As we already know, Mendes makes a very stylish and visually distinctive Bond film. He favours quiet moments and slow-burning, psychologically-laden key dialogue sequences. But that doesn’t mean he skimps on the action – of which there is plenty. A highlight is a breathtaking, breakneck, night-time car chase through Rome. After spending three films rebooting, deconstructing and then reconstructing the Bond formula, Wilson and Broccoli, with regular writers John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, have now returned it to the form that we’re familiar with. But there are plenty of surprises in store, and a few nods to Bond films of the past (e.g. a brutal fight sequence on a train). The role fits Craig like a glove and here he builds on Skyfall’s backstory to reveal more about his orphan agent. Seydoux is an alluring but realistic Bond girl who holds her own against Bond. Waltz makes his villain every bit as dangerous and cryptic as you would expect, with some added value for devoted followers of the world’s longest-running film franchise, like this reviewer. The characterisation certainly doesn’t fall flat. If anything, it flies. Spectre is the longest Bond film by a few minutes, but every scene serves a purpose. It’s a thrilling, explosive film that is carefully calibrated for maximum effect. Craig recently and rather undiplomatically hinted that he would only do another Bond film for the money. He’s contracted for one more before he hangs up his Walther PPK. But there’s plenty of potential for Spectre to lead onto something possibly greater. The hype has been justified – Spectre is a knockout. ****

  • Joseph McCarthy

    Daniel Craig wraps up his term as 007 by linking the plot threads from the other films of his tenure. Facing off against a terrorist agency, and the prospect of his agency being disbanded, Bond again travels the world to find the elusive head of Spectre.
    Unfortunately he takes a little too long to do it. Weighing in at two and a half hours, of which 20 minutes could easily be lost, Spectre is a fitting end to Craig as Bond, and leaves a new standard for the next man to drive the DB to measure up to.

  • Randy

    The film trudges along at nearly 3 hours and while the locations delight and stunts are mostly impressive, the plot is dumb, the villain – lacklustre, relying solely on Waltz’s reputation, and the picture ends up being a parody of itself. Needless to say that the typically misogynist views persist and Bellucci is criminally underused and Seydoux has little to do. It seems like even Bond has jumped the ship….2/5

  • emerb

    Bond is back! Sam Mendes returns to direct Daniel Craig in “Spectre”, the 24th instalment of the James Bond franchise, picking up the story after the billon-dollar success of “Skyfall”. The Bond movies remain one of cinema’s longest running and most lucrative franchises of all time and “Spectre” does not disappoint in terms of pure action mayhem and polished glossy style. After the rip roaring success of “Skyfall”, expectations have been set very high and “Spectre” can count on an enormous global fanbase. Bond geeks will even get to enjoy the many clever references made to events and previous characters from all three of Craig’s previous 007 films.

    We open with a stupendous action sequence that swoops and sweeps through Mexico City during the riotous Day of the Dead festivities. Mendes contrives a stylishly extended tracking shot, 5 minutes in length, that follows Bond (Daniel Craig) through a surging street parade, into a hotel, up 3 floors, into a suite, out of the window, and much further – one of the all-time greatest moment in the 007 franchise. After a spectacular demolition and helicopter fight leaves a trail of carnage, Bond is grounded by his exasperated bosses. But a clue salvaged from the chaos leads him to defy their orders and strike out on his own. He first races to Rome where he has a romantic interlude with a woman of mystery Lucia Sciarra (an underused Monica Bellucci in a throwaway role that offers little more than plot delivery), the widow of a man he killed in Mexico. From here we go to Austria and this is where Bond is to encounter his main amour, Dr Madeleine Swann, stylishly played by Léa Seydoux. While there, he also gains access to a secret meeting of a shady global cooperative, presided over by the mercurially nasty, whimsical, and mysterious Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). Swann is a young doctor with a dark past who identifies Oberhauser’s operation as the powerful, criminal cartel SPECTRE (this is the resurrection of a collective enemy that has featured in previous 007 films). Meanwhile, back in London, M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) are fighting for survival against a slick new, surveillance-obsessed M15 bureaucrat named C (a splendid Andrew Scott) who has plans to shut down the 00 agent program and replace it with his own sinister high-tech surveillance network.

    There have been rumours that this will be Craig’s last outing as Bond. I hope not, in my view he is up there with Connery as one of the best. He has flair, a chiseled physique and that icy intensity which arguably embodies that image of a sociopathic sadist more than any previous 007. He has the physicality for the combat and chase scenes and even allows himself some wry humour and the odd sly smirk after one of his dead pan quips. If this is to be his last 007, he’ll certainly be remembered as the one of the franchise’s main assets – the man who brought grit back to Bond. Many judge a Bond film by the success of the main villain and Austrian double Oscar-winner Waltz certainly exudes a presence of evil menace, upsetting all his subordinates by saying and doing next to nothing and photographed in shadow. He is a truly chilling psychopath in key scenes, including in his first appearance in the Spectre boardroom, silhoutted against a column of golden light. Personally though, I don’t think he was as eerily vivid as Javier Bardem’s Silva in “Skyfall”. Another person who has grown into his part is Ben Wishaw as the stressed out tech supremo Q. He has developed as a very enjoyable comic character. The London team also includes Naomie Harris as a disappointingly desk-bound Moneypenny and the newly-installed Ralph Fiennes as a convincing M (not easy to have to live up to the beloved Judi Dench) and on the whole, they all work well together.

    “Spectre” is hugely entertaining and in pure action mayhem and adventure, it certainly delivers, with plenty of revved-up high-speed chase sequences on road, river and snowy mountain slope. Mendes uses every trick in the Bond book to remind us why we love 007 – glossy locations, extravagant stunts, stunning Bond girls, a complex over-extended plot and of course a beguiling villain. We even get the extended fight on a train and a snowbound chase sequence. Mendes exercises complete control over his material and pulls out all the shots. He is assisted with brilliant visual spectacle from top cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar). Personally I think Sam Smith’s flimsy theme song “The Writing’s On The Wall” is a weak entry in the list of 007 classics but no doubt it will still soar to number one. “Spectre” contains enough dazzle, action and style to keep the Bond brand alive and buzzing and the overall result is a consistently thrilling and enthralling film.