When a highly anticipated blockbuster is around the corner, I inevitably find myself prowling the cinema in order to unearth the truth for myself. Spectre was my second most anticipated movie of 2015, narrowly beaten by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with trailers that indicated that this would be a great movie. My decision to ignore the “mixed or average reviews” of Spectre was a move that paid off, considering how much fun I had with this film.
That being said, there are only a few negatives to point out. Sam Smith’s title song is abysmal and on par with some of the songs from the Roger Moore Era. In addition to the minimal appearance of Monica Belluci’s character, I was really disappointed by the handling of Oscar winner Christoph Waltz in the role of [SPOILER ALERT] Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Although Waltz gives a performance akin to his role in Inglorious Basterds, he is let down by weak dialogue. As summed by Bond, “the only thing more painful [than torture] is listening to you talk”.
However, most of these flaws are quite forgivable, as the the overall story and script of Spectre is surprisingly great. I disagree with the assertion that the script is a huge letdown; I found it to be concise, eloquent and humorous. What elevates Spectre is its ability to balance its gritty action and tone with genuinely humorous repartee. The most memorable punchline is when C, played by Andrew Scott (who borrows from his performance as Moriarty in Sherlock), states that “M stands for Moron”, to which Ralph Fiennes’ character responds, “Now we know what C stands for”. In addition to his ability to have fun, Sam Mendes’ clever direction is also evidenced by his aptitude in achieving great performances, symbolism and a smooth round-the-world tour. I should also mention that Spectre is the jackpot of nods to almost every previous entry in the Bond canon, and handles all these references in an intelligent fashion.
As far as performances go, Daniel Craig never disappoints in the role of 007, and brings out the humour, acumen and vulnerability that none of the previous Bonds have been able to achieve. His support trio (M, Q and Moneypenny) are at their best, especially when they all work as a team to aid Bond in the final act. Dr. Madeline Swann, played by the irrepressible Léa Seydoux, is sexy, smart, sassy, and everything a great Bond girl should be, while simultaneously bringing raw emotion and complexity that makes her an overall strong character, regardless of her gender. One of the most memorable characters in the film is Mr. Hinx, played by Dave Bautista, fresh off Guardians of the Galaxy. Although he is clearly a modern-day Oddjob, he also reminds us of the T-800, with his brutish penchant for violence complemented by his silence, striking fear into the hearts of both Bond and the audience.
Exquisitely shot by Interstellar cinematographer Hoyte van Hoteyma, the visual representation of the action and drama in Spectre is close to perfection. The opening tracking shot throughout Mexico City is so bloody brilliant, that if CinemaSins were reviewing this film, they would remove several sins just for that one shot. The action in Spectre is enormously fun, and makes great usage of its $300 million budget. I don't think that Spectre is anywhere as good as Casino Royale or Skyfall, but it is supremely better than Quantum of Solace.
Rating - ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ½