After the critical and financial success of Skyfall the 24th entry in the Bond canon, Spectre, may well be the most anticipated Bond movie of all time.
Since making his debut as Bond in Casino Royale Daniel Craig has gone on to become one of, if not the best Bond of all time. His first film Casino Royale was met with critical applause whilst his second Quantum was a failure for reasons beyond his control his third outing Skyfall was the greatest Bond film of the modern era, perhaps even of all time.
Spectre picks up where Skyfall left off, an astonishing opening sequence during the Mexican day of the dead is rarely topped for the rest of the movie but arks back memories of some of Bond’s finest moments. It turns out that Bond was sent to Mexico because of a message left by the now deceased M, informing him that he needs to take out a villain and then visit his funeral.
Bond’s mission then lands him in a whole heap of trouble as he slowly starts to unravel the mysterious Spectre organisation and his own dark secrets. The plot of Spectre, and the film itself are both looking back into the past of Bond. Never before has a Bond film been riddled with as many references as Spectre is; referencing everything from The Man with The Golden Gun to Casino Royale and also featuring sequences that are highly reminiscent of From Russia with Love and Live and Let Die to name just a few, Spectre is effectively a greatest hits compilation and it’s damn good fun, if not a little muddled.
Since his casting fans have been speculating as to the real identity of Christoph Waltz’s Franz Oberhauser and as to whether the esteemed actor could become one of the franchise’s best villains yet. As the leader of Spectre Oberhauser spends a lot of the movie literally in the shadows, so much so it borders on self parody at times. He is at his best though when he is sharing an exchange with Bond- his maniacal persona harks back to his performance in Inglorious Basterds, a calm cackling villainy that is enough to send a shiver down the spine. His sidekick Hix, played by Dave Bautista is one of the films highlights, his chase scene with Bond in Rome and a battle on a train in Africa are easily two of the movies stand out moments, even if the former is plagued by some ridiculous product placement. The actor has really proven himself in the last year or so and if his character has one flaw it’s that he’s not in the film enough, his debut scene is one of the movie’s best moments.
Craig himself cements his status as one of the best Bonds ever and if this is to be his last movie it is a fitting swan song. Logic would suggest that it likely be though as a disappointing and somewhat misjudged final act pretty much wraps up all the loose ends left during his stint. Creatively it will be tough to bring Craig back after the end of this and perhaps it is now time to give a new man the role. Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott also deserve a lot of praise for this movie, even if the latter feels somewhat underused.
As for the rest of the film it pedals along at a fairly exhilarating pace, rarely stopping to worry about making too much sense. This is in many ways the film that sums up Craig’s reign the best- it is slightly muddled, heavy on Bond’s past and features some explosive set pieces that will no doubt be remembered for years to come.
Those expecting a Skyfall standard Bond entry may be a little disappointed. Spectre is solid but rarely spectacular. A sublime opening sequence and some superb exchanges throughout are enough to cement it as a great Bond film though, even if the final act is a little muddled.