You may or may not know that the first James Bond movie I saw was Casino Royale, and I didn’t see that until mid-2020. I’m not sure why I’ve avoided them for so long really, since I do love a good gun-slinging action movie and I also love secret organisation spy shit… Anyway, I may not be making my way through them at the fastest pace (it’s taken almost 2 whole years for me to see just four of them now), but maybe I’ll have watched them all – including those pre-Daniel Craig – by 2050.
Spectre is Craig’s fourth crack at this iconic character, and seems to take place not too long after the events that transpired in Skyfall. Basically, Judi Dench‘s ‘M’ left 007 with a cryptic message that included her last dying wish. On his mission to grant it, he uncovers something altogether sinister by the name of SPECTRE, meeting a bunch of new people – plus some old ones – along the way.
Well these title credits are cool as fuck. Shame about the crappy theme song.
Where to start other than the opening sequence? Surprisingly, I’m quite impressed with this one! Not only does it showcase a solid, exciting action sequence with a colourful Día de Muertos background, but it also seems much less superfluous than other intros in this very long franchise. I was immediately more engrossed and interested in this instalment than I have been with past Daniel Craig Bonds, that’s for sure. So, it got off to a flying start!
There’s something about this one that makes it much more intriguing than Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace combined for me. The plot seems instantly more considered and complex, with new characters that are actually as mysterious and charismatic as they were supposed to be. Perhaps screenwriter John Logan’s contribution is what makes Spectre more nuanced – his past works suggest that this may very well be the case (see: Gladiator and The Aviator).
The consensus is that Skyfall is Craig’s best Bond, but you know what? I think Sam Mendes matched his past achievement in Spectre. There’s something about the way the lighting and the visuals in this one that made it a much more satisfying watch and I ain’t sorry. Screw your consensus. It can’t hurt to have an outstanding cinematographer at your side (Hoyte van Hoytema) either. Not to mention that Christoph Waltz is as ominous and terrifying as you’d want him to be as the baddie. Even Daniel Craig himself seemed to possess more of that classic Bond charisma that I expected from him in the first place.
It’s not perfect: Monica Bellucci gets nowhere near enough screen time, it’s all a little messy pacing-wise and it’s way too fucking long. As usual. In fact, the second act actually loses a lot of steam and becomes a mild slog at times. But there’s too much good stuff here to overlook – the majority of this is a 4 star film and the first Bond movie I’ve seen that actually felt like a Bond movie.
Now maybe I’ll get round to No Time To Die by April 2023?
Spectre is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK.
TQR Category Ratings:
Costume & Set Design:
Overall Enjoyability Rating: ½