Sam Mendes stamp on the Bond legacy was solidified with the gloomy dark masterwork that was Skyfall. Spectre is a different beast from Mendes and Daniel Craig. The film is the longest ever bond in terms of duration and it utilizes those 2 hours and 30 minutes to basically give Craig's Bond a possible perfect goodbye (yes even with that 1 more film in his contract). Click through for my full review on Spectre and a few tasty videos of the work put into this Bond film.
The latest Bond begins with one of the more elaborate and beautifully shot opening sequences. The Day of The Dead opening is by far the best part of the entire film. Daniel Craig's silent but deadly demeanor is fully on alert as he traverses up, down, and around this massive parade of death that engulfs all of downtown Mexico City. Ambitious, bold and some of the best cinematography of any Bond film it really highlights Mendes transition from the moody gripping feel of icon Roger Deakins (SkyFall) to a more vibrant and free moving Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar, Her, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). These last two bond films share in being possibly the best shot ones of the entire history. They luckily keep to the time honored tradition of making Bond truly global. We see Mexico, Austria, Morocco, and of course London.
Along with the amazing real action sequences there always needs to be lovely ladies for James. Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra is a short sequence that is extremely seductive but also quite forgettable in the long run of the film. James real lovely lady of note is the fiery Lea Seydoux who harps back to the classic deadly Bond Girls, intelligent doctor Madeleine Swann. With that said her presence also allows for a much more real connection to Bond. There is an inkling of him finding a true love after Craig's Bond began with such tragedy. The film doesn't shy away from a "off into the sunset" style close that doesn't fit the mystic of the previous films, but does allow Craig's Bond to potential have his end moment (yes I realize he's under contract, for one more, but it's just a piece of paper). Overall the ladies are fantastic.
The staying power of Mendes films' have been the ability to Bond to fully connect with his team. Dame Judy Dench pushed him, molded him and fully gained his loyalty. Her presence sadly is a mere moment, but it allows for the underlining question of why her and whom. But the elements outside of the ladies and the action/cinematography is Bond's continued connection to Moneypenny and Q. Naomie Harris finally gets more action in a Bond film and her intimate but friendly connection to James is one of the real highlights. We see their cheeky demeanor allow for a real trust to be building. This is also true of the whiz kid wonder that is Q, Ben Whishaw. Ben's performance is slightly less utilized in this film as he's become more of an agency figure. I can see him expanding into the next film with a lot more of a focus. His few scenes with Bond are comical and entertaining, but lack the depth and heart of those scenes with Harris' Moneypenny. The one relationship that lacks completely is the hard nose Ralph Fiennes as M. If Craig leaves as Bond, it would be interesting to see who they team up with Fiennes, Whishaw, and Harris.
Christoph Waltz is ultimately more a punch line with his "connection" to past villains, but the entire Spectre organization is so badly left behind closed doors that we never get a real fear of them. Waltz is somewhat enjoyable with the mystic and aura of such a quiet character, but overall as a villain he is one of the worst. That complex of so many fun elements but a horrible villain really dooms this film and makes the final hour the hardest to fight through. Dave Bautista's violent explosive performance is at least exciting compared to Waltz lack of a battle. But Bautista's Hinx is merely a time kill to what should have been!?! Andrew Scott, C, is the real fox in the hen house. He certainly doesn't give us a Moriarty type feel (god he's amazing in Sherlock!), but his arrogant nature is a real plus in the film. C's plan of making British Intelligent into a powerful corporation built on digital security slaps the entire Double 00 venture in the face. The heated back and forth's between Fiennes old school M and Scott's new school C are some of the best moments in the film. Overall the C impact will be felt in future movies, but Andrew delivers on creating a complex character.
Spectre has all the right elements to be an enjoyable entertaining Bond film, but in the Daniel Craig foursome it ranks closer to the bottom as it doesn't have Skyfall's darkness, Royale's clumsy reality, or Quantum over-the-top fire. There are some great performances and we're treated to a very real love interest that could just allow Craig's Bond to complete his story of lost love to now found love.
For more information on Spectre please go, here.