The Watchers

The Watchers

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Review: SPECTRE (UK Cert 12A)

Bond is back. Everything present and correct; the guns, the girls, the gadgets. This time, a cryptic message from Bond's path puts him on the hunt for a shadowy cabal. As Bond travels in search of the elusive SPECTRE, M faces a challenge to close the 00 unit down by political forces who see the secret service as a prehistoric relic.

Performance-wise, everyone is really strong. This is Daniel Craig's fourth outing as Bond and he's as assured and suave as ever. There's less of the cerebral psychodrama that made Skyfall so good, which puts Craig more into the traditional ass-kicking mode- which is no bad thing. Ralph Fiennes' M is a nice blend of stern boss and compassionate friend whilst Ben Whishaw's delightfully geeky Q provides some of the nicest moments in the film, particularly involving unveiling the truly sublime Aston Martin DB10.

Christoph Waltz was the perfect choice for the role of Oberhauser, equal parts charm and menace. His confrontations with Bond really crackle and he's an imposing presence throughout. You may not be entirely surprised by where they go with his character, but it works in the context of the story. Monica Bellucci is barely on screen for five minutes and her role is largely as a stepping stone (by sleeping with her, Bond gets the location of the initial SPECTRE meeting) but Lea Seydoux fares better as Dr Madeleine Swann. Madeleine isn't a damsel in distress, although by dramatic necessity ends up being one, and can certainly handle herself. There's some good interplay between Seydoux and Craig which sells that relationship.

The film's opening sequence- which includes a wonderful unbroken tracking shot through the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City- is impressive and sets the tenor for the rest of the film. The car chase in Rome is another particular highlight, whilst the film has taken a Guinness World Record for the largest on-screen explosion. You'll definitely know it when you see it. There's also a brilliantly choreographed and visceral fight scene between Dave Bautista and Craig aboard a train (channelling From Russia With Love). In fact, there's quite a lot of callbacks and inspirations taken from the Bond 'canon' which will please long-standing fans.

Strangely, it feels very much like a swansong for the Craig era. Several hanging threads have been tied up and brought together. Whether Craig will do another film, I don't know, but if this is his last one, it's a hell of a way to go.

Rating: 5 out of 5


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