We, as a collective audience, are very lucky that after the impressive success of Skyfall, Sam Mendes decided to live and let die, and direct a second Bond film. Unlike 007’s famous vodka martini, Spectre left me both shaken AND stirred!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
It is difficult to say too much about Spectre without giving it all away, so like a good secret agent I shall be cryptic! Everything in this film feels like the end of Daniel Craig’s tenure as Ian Fleming’s suave MI6 hero, although this has yet to be officially confirmed or denied by Sony and EON Productions. His latest appearance as 007 in Spectre works brilliantly as a culmination of plot points from the three previous outings, weaving every film from Casino Royale onwards into a neat package.
After receiving a message from beyond the grave, our favourite secret agent tries to uncover an organisation that appears to be the puppet master behind many recent world events. At the same time, M (Lord Voldemort himself: Ralph Fiennes) is trying to swat away a power struggle with the head of the Joint Intelligence Service (Andrew Scott) who wants to close down the “00” section of the organisation as he considers field work outdated in the age of cyber warfare – a thought provoking storyline in the post-Snowden world we now live in.
In the opening act, Spectre feels very much like Skyfall’s sequel; threading together plot strands that were seeded in the second half of the 2012 blockbuster. While Spectre does not ignore its predecessor, it does move away from familiar territory to stand up as a strong entry in its own right. The breathtaking opening sequence is a perfect example of this; set during Mexico’s day of the dead festival, it features only two lines of dialogue, beautiful carnival costumes and rich location work. As a result, Spectre boasts perhaps one of the most mesmerising introductions to a Bond film in decades, with a high-octane helicopter fight that will leave you on the edge of you seat.
From Mexico, to England, to Rome, to Austria, to Morocco and then finally back to England again; Spectre darts all over the world. I would love to know what mode of transport Bond is using that allows him to zip from country to country so quickly, but at least the constant location changes are not too disorienting for those used to the rapid-fire pacing of 21st century Bond.
This is clearly Craig’s best work as Bond to date, and if it is indeed his curtain call, I hope he goes down in history as the most original incarnation since Sean Connery. Additionally, hats off to Ben Whishaw, a revelation in this film as the witty Q, and of course, I cannot end my review without mentioning the tour de force that is Christoph Waltz in his poignant performance as our newest Bond villain Franz Obenhauser.
It is difficult not to fall in love with this film: I appoint it a worthy 4½ stars out of five.
Spectre is available in Australian cinemas from November 12th
Images courtesy of Sony Pictures