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So after 50 years of appearing on cinema screens, the 24th instalment of the British institution that is James Bond has returned. SPECTRE is Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as Her majesty’s gin sodden assassin and the 2nd bond film to be directed by Mr Kate Winslet aka Sam Mendes.
Due to the incredible success of the last Bond film Skyfall (2012), I was pretty sure that Mendes would play it safe and give us something in a similar vein, but the more I think about the film the more I think Skyfall may have been a fluke.
SPECTRE is an incredibly expensive film that; flash cars, locations and explosions. The film starts in Mexico City, it’s the day of the dead procession. Hundreds of Baron Samedi look-a likes wander the streets as Bond and a female “friend” meander the crowds in a loose pursuit of a Man From Del-Monte suited baddy with a skull mask. The tracking in the first shot lasts about 5 minutes as we go from the streets, to a hotel and then out of a window onto a roof, it’s a very impressive piece of filming. We then view the first big bit of action which relies on lashings of very obvious CGI which took a lot of edge out of what could’ve been a very tense sequence of events.
There is quite a lot of action distributed throughout the 2:30 hour running time but nothing new, fighting in helicopters, car chase around Rome, car chase in snow, fight on a train etc etc. It felt like boxes were being ticked instead of a story being told.
[alert type=white ]It felt like boxes were being ticked instead of a story being told.[/alert]
It seems that James Bond has been distilled to a mixture of Top Gear and Russell Crowes’ Fightin’ Around the World, just without casual racism and a better wardrobe.
The story is confusing and a bit weak if anything; it links on from Skyfall but not so much that you would need to see it before seeing this.
They annoyingly try to tap into the topical issue of NSA style surveillance which actually felt quite dated now anyway. Bond and his team (M, Q and Moneypenny) were representing the Ed Snowden point of view and Andrew Scotts’ Denbigh (codename C) representing the all-seeing government agency CNS. C makes speeches about how privacy will be a thing of the past and criticises democracy, whilst looking like a creepy insurance salesman.
There are confusing moments where M (Ralph Fiennes) expresses concern over C’s desire to have the world’s population under surveillance, but then you remember that M is head of a ruthless spy organisation who kill and spy on behalf the Queen, the arch-figurehead of anti-democracy
The Snowden/surveillance story is flaccid and gets lost in the other stories which have James schlepping all over the world trying to track Franz Oberhouser, head of the shadowy SPECTRE organisation played with calm maniacal campness by Christopher Waltz, who actually lives in a real old-school super villain lair.
The hackneyed characters do quickly become tiresome; the bad guy with a weaponised body part is sub Austin Powers, they introduce women as tough and independent only for them to relent after seeing James kill a few people, which is strange as I always heard that it was oysters and not bleeding corpses that got you in the mood.
[alert type=white ]They introduce women as tough and independent only for them to relent after seeing James kill a few people, which is strange as I always heard that it was oysters and not bleeding corpses that got you in the mood.[/alert]
Then there are the comically timed quips moments before death/sex, the bomb with a red L.E.D. countdown clock, the cannon fodder henchmen that can’t even get a shot close to Bond, it just felt lazy, safe and predictable. A cartoon.
All of this cliché stuff belongs in the camp, misogynistic Bond films of the past, it seems pointless for Mendes to even pretend that his Bond inhabits some real world where real people live.
I doubt it will do as good as Skyfall as this was a boring, unbelievable, patronising throwback with clunky, cheesy dialogue, scenes that are irrelevant to the story and very few endearing moments.
The opening sequence is weird, with some very odd “Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” type scenes and a terrible, terrible theme song.
After saying all that though Daniel Craig has come into his own in the role of Bond, throughout the film he is quite good at being miserable and always in need of a stiff drink, which was perhaps the only thing I could relate to whilst watching this film.
007 Spectre opens in cinemas on Friday October 30.