This is my Spectre review, my first ever review on here or anywhere. Over the next couple of paragraphs I’ll share my thoughts on the new Bond film mere hours after seeing it, what worked and what didn’t, no spoilers. Just don’t expect a grade at the end.
Since Daniel Craig took on the persona of James Bond in 2006’s fantastic Casino Royale we’ve gotten used to a very different kind of 007, a darker, much more serious one, unlike the versions portrayed by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan before him. The shift in tone was a reaction to the changing times and after years of veering in the opposite direction with Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace or Skyfall, Spectre feels very much like a modern throwback to the classic Bond while at the same time continuing the arc of Craig’s 007. Sadly there also lie the film’s biggest problems. While trying to be everything to everyone it fails to excel at most of anything but the action.
To put it bluntly Spectre is a series of edge-of-your-seat action set-pieces tied together by a flimsy story with a villain that’s about as developed over the film’s 148 minute running time as James’ new Aston Martin. I know those sound like very harsh words, and they are, but I’m here to give you my honest opinion, no holding back. That being said I still enjoyed Spectre immensely and it’s arguably the most action-packed Bond to date with some of the best and most elaborate sequences in 007 history. In a similar fashion to Skyfall, Spectre‘s standout action sequence happens at the very beginning of the film, before the dark and hauntingly beautiful intro that accompanies Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On the Wall”, a song that’s starting to grown on me. But unlike Skyfall, Spectre doesn’t like to stay still for too long, offering one action sequence after the other with very little breathing room between them, often to the detriment of the story it’s trying to tell.
I said it times and times again, Christoph Waltz was born to play a Bond villain and now that he is finally one — and not just any villain — they completely squander him. Above all else that’s my biggest problem with Spectre, it doesn’t do enough with Waltz and so we’re left with an underdeveloped villain that could have been so much more. It’s crazy that this is the Bond with the longest running time and yet somehow Waltz is barely in the movie.
I know I’ve made Spectre sound like a bad movie, but it’s really not. I liked Spectre and some parts I even loved. As usual Daniel Craig is great, leaping across buildings in Mexico City without breaking a sweat, chasing after or being chased by bad guys all over the world, enjoying a vodka martini, shaken not stirred in the company of a beautiful woman, all with a superhuman level of confidence that you expect from 007. What’s new to Spectre is this time he isn’t afraid to smile or crack a joke here and there. But it wouldn’t be a Bond movie without a Bond girl and Lea Seydoux holds her own for the most part, doing the best she can with what was given to her (which sadly wasn’t a lot).
Ben Whishaw’s Q gets to do a bit more than just present gadgets to Bond while Ralph Fiennes’s M is, well more Ralph Fiennes which is fine by me. Both Naomie Harris and Rory Kinnear have a few good scenes in there and Andrew Scott takes it down a notch with C (compared to his Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock). Last and definitely not least I wish there was more of Dave Bautista’s Hinx in Spectre. While he does have more screen time than you’d expect for what is essentially a henchman, only about half of his scenes really let him shine as the menacing force of nature he is.
Here’s the bottom line, if you’ve seen Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall you owe it to youself to watch Spectre because it completes the arc of Daniel Craig’s James Bond in a mostly satisfying fashion. As long as you’re ok with villains that love to chat up the spy, explain their grand plan before doing anything to them, gadgets that magically save the day when our heroes seem doomed and other tropes of the genre, Spectre is a very entertaining two and a half hours that can be enjoyed by both old-school and new Bond fans alike. I was ok with all of the tropes, with playing everything safe I wasn’t.
I said no grade at the end but if I were to give it something it would probably be three Glocks out of five, Spectre is better than Quantum of Solace but not quite on the level of Casino Royale or Skyfall. What it might lack in story it more than makes up for in action.