On Saturday I was fortunate enough to be thanked by Sam Mendes for making the latest Bond film possible. It was nice of him, if a little unnecessary but I was at the first of four cast and crew screenings of Spectre, the fourth Daniel Craig outing as 007.
So spectre: solid Bond film. Not as bad as quantum of solace, not as good as casino royale or skyfall. Whole not as good as sum of parts
— Daddacool (@daddacool) October 25, 2015
That’s the TLDR; review, if you want more, with spoilers, continue onwards.
Quantum of Solace is regarded as the weakest of the Daniel Craig Bond films but one thing it does brilliantly is paint the organisation of Quantum as an invasive poison that’s infiltrated all the security services, you can trust no-one, everyone could be a Quantum agent. It leads to a great feeling of paranoia, and a feeling that you just can’t associate with Spectre. Even when it turns out that Quantum was just a branch of Spectre, Spectre somehow manages to come across as though it’s been lifted wholesale from a Roger Moore Bond outing- there are goons aplenty but instead of an insidious organisation with agents everywhere, it’s a bit of a camp flamboyant group of three or four recognisable people that pop up in an Austin Powers bad guy fashion.
The manner which Bond isn’t dealt with by his step brother/Blofeld is equally Austin Powers inspired too- I could hear this exchange from the Spy Who Shagged Me when instead of shooting Bond at his satellite monitoring/aviation fuel storage depot secret base, Blofeld instead opted for some dopey form of torture instead:
Dr. Evil: As you know, every diabolical scheme I’ve hatched has been thwarted by Austin Powers. And why is that, ladies and gentlemen?
Scott: Because you never kill him when you get the chance, and you’re a big dope?
This may give the impression that Spectre is crap. If it does let me put you straight, it isn’t crap. It’s fun, the set pieces are great, the humour is brilliant (Ralph Fiennes deadpanning “Now we know what C stands for.” is comedic genius), and if it relies a little too much on a nerd twiddling on computers to save them from peril, well, that’s the way of cinema generally now. On that subject, it’s high time that Richard Ayoade was properly attributed for his contribution to Ben Wishaw’s portrayal of Q. Q is pure Moss from the IT Crowd, and it’s not even subtle, right down to the rucksack and social interaction issues, never mind the look and the HAIR.
The big finale, with Bond shooting down Blofeld’s helicopter, was a bit of a disappointment. I keep on going back to Quantum of Solace but if Spectre were that organisation, the police unit that turned up to cordon the bridge off would have been Spectre agents, there to spirit their boss away. They weren’t though and that was that- a damp squib of an ending where the peril was obvious and yet easily thwarted.
As a Bond film it ticks all the boxes: explosions, helicopters (crashing), car chases, beautiful women, lots of shooting, great one liners but as mentioned, the whole is definitely less that sum of the parts. Spectre needs to be more of a perceived threat than Quantum. It isn’t and the film suffers as a result.
As it stands though, being the third best Daniel Craig Bond movie leaves us with a bloody great film that’s still worth a watch, and as a spectacle, it’s right up there with the best you’ll see this year.