Movie Review – Spectre

My first viewing of Spectre was infuriating.

Between a protracted story, forced interconnectivity, and more women that couldn’t escape the shadow of Vesper Lynd, it did plenty right but also got plenty wrong.

Some time has passed and I’ve now watched it again in the comfort of my own home. So was this a misstep for the franchise or were the hard seats in the local Odeon preventing me from getting the most out of the film?

Damn those seats. On second viewing Spectre turns out to be a lot like Skyfall; a decent Bond film that does a lot right but also takes several missteps.

The opening scene is a one shot wonder, showcasing the niche that Daniel Craig’s Bond has settled into; harsher and rougher like Connery and Dalton, with the odd moment of levity. Landing on an old sofa with a slight smirk at his luck sums it all up. He’s taken the shift that came with Skyfall and finally settled into the role. Though I particularly enjoy his more brutish approach in Casino Royale (still his best showing), I do wish things had settled a bit sooner and we’d seen more of this character. He might insist on wearing suits that are a size to small (I could probably write another piece just on the fit of his clothes) but he’s a great Bond.

Craig seems much more settled, and a big part of that is the team around him. M, Q, and Moneypenny are not only fully integrated into this world now but are spared the injustice of being stuck behind desks. Special note for Tanner, he’s not a big presence but I always like seeing him. I just wish we could see Felix Leiter again to top it off. Oh, and Craig should take notes from Fiennes on how to dress. Yes I had to bring it up again!

As a self-confessed sucker for continuity the mention and inclusion of events from Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall tickles my fussy bone no end

All of this makes it a shame that we have two more Bond girls that can’t escape the shadow of Vesper Lynd, though one manages to come closer than most. Second time around it’s a lot clearer why Bond falls for Swann. I can’t see them staying together long-term but within the story it made sense.

The action is exciting, but be warned; several moments are clearly pushing the 12A certificate to its limit. It’s not for the squeamish. We’ve not had a Jaguar versus Aston battle since Die Another Day (shudders), but this one is far classier whilst still managing to include some gadgetry. Stunning cars too.

As a self-confessed sucker for continuity the mention and inclusion of events from Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall tickles my fussy bone no end. It’s a pretty awkward ret-con and doesn’t completely jive, but I can live with it.

Waltz walks the line between sinister and camp pretty well, though I have to admit I didn’t expect the full on ‘Bond villain’ approach his character brings to the film. Monologues and elaborate traps don’t stick out sorely, but it’s a bit of a change from the previous films as the franchise decides to take another step back into what it’s known for. Perhaps I expected more after the final third of Skyfall and its Home Alone approach to dealing with bad guys. Nevertheless, bar some ridiculously good shooting that proves Bond hasn’t ‘lost a step’, the finale did enough whilst leaving things open for the future.

Now that we’ve definitely got Craig back for a fifth turn focus can shift to where the series goes next. More of the Skyfall/Spectre style wouldn’t go amiss for me, but can we finally get a film where Bond just goes out on a mission and isn’t constantly being questioned about his place in the world? I’d quite like that please.

Note – In the cinema there was an advert for Heineken featuring Craig. The longer haircut he sports there look rather dashing on him, and much more Bond.

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