So, SPECTRE. Mr Craig’s fourth outing as Bond. Will it live up to the promise of Skyfall? Will I be forced to rethink my post on ten reasons why Skyfall is the best Bond movie?
Short version: No, and erm, no.
That said, SPECTRE is good fun. It’s a very good Bond movie. It’s just not a *great* Bond movie.
Some thoughts. Warning, HERE BE SPOILERS.
GO WATCH THE MOVIE FIRST.
Still here? You’ve been warned…
Ok, so there were some minor niggles and perhaps I’m about to be (incredibly) picky. Bits of it were quite silly and it could easily have lost half an hour off the running time without really batting an eyelid. The cold open is hugely entertaining (despite the helicopter shenanigans), the middle sags a teeny bit, but the final third is quite splendidly Bond in full effect, throttles wide open.
Slightly longer, rambling version.
The pre-credit scene starts off with a lovely, lazy, super-long tracking shot following Bond and his lady-friend through the streets of Mexico City’s Day of the Dead festival, culminating with a fight aboard a helicopter over the crowd.
Question: Why on earth does Bond try and fight the helicopter pilot AND Marco Sciarra? If he’d managed to knock the pilot out, he’d be left with Sciarra and an out-of-control helicopter really not that far above the square. Sort out the bad guy first, *then* sort the pilot out. Priorities, Bond!
Bond somehow manages to spot that Sciarra is wearing a strange ring and nicks it before shoving him out of the helicopter. A CLUE!
Cue woefully underused Monica Belluci as Lucia Sciarra.
It’s not long before he picks her up at her husband’s funeral, seduces her and promptly abandons her to (hopefully) get picked up by his old mate Felix. Ah, we miss you Felix. Come back for the next one! Whilst it was nice to see a lady Bond’s age (roughly, Monica is 4 years older than our Dan), it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance. Disappointing.
There are some shenanigans with C, played by the quite brilliant Andrew Scott who is all DASTARDLY and EVIL, the it’s not long before Bond is off to Rome. He infiltrates a Top Secret meeting of SPECTRE where we meet the delightfully creepy Oberhauser.
Slightly disappointed to discover the weird device on the table which I speculated could be some kind of VR headset is just a headset for translating the interminable financial reports from the SPECTRE minions. Yawn.
Anyhoo, before long Mr Hinx turns up. Dave Bautista is one of the highlights of SPECTRE for me, kind of a cross between Oddjob and Jaws, saying nothing but crashing through the scenery like a runaway train. He’s brilliant. More of him pls.
The car chase goes on through the streets of Rome, which seemed… oddly light on traffic. The chase goes on…
waaaay too long. Long enough to squeeze in Amusing Italian In Tiny Car Comedy Light Relief. Oh dear.
Then we’re off to Austria. Proper globe-trotting, this Bond outing. There are shades of OHMSS going on here. Splendidly silly chase scene with Bond flying(ish) a plane after White’s daughter Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and Hinx which results in Bond managing to somehow steer a wingless plane down a mountain, through a wooden chalet and into the escaping cars.
Well, he *is* BondJamesBond, isn’t he?
They meet up with Q who finds out via some handwavingly bonkers computery thing that Sciarra’s ring links Oberhauser to Bond’s previous outings, and identifying Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene and Raoul Silva as agents of SPECTRE.
So it turns out that Quantum is just the super-secret organisation fronting an even super-secreter organisation? REALLY? Hello screenwriters. Can we have a word?
Whatever happened to Quantum, by the way? They had tons of potential, and could easily have been the proto-SPECTRE. Turns out they were just the executive wing of SPECTRE then? Last seen running in different directions following a super-secret meeting at the opera, they must surely all still be at large. Apart from Greene, obviously.
I note with interest that SPECTRE doesn’t go for the whole secret-meeting-at-the-opera approach to secret meetings. They hold their (entirely more boring) meetings in central Rome?
Bond and Swann swan (sorry) off to Morocco where White has somehow managed to build a secret room in a hotel (erm, how?). Swann fends off Bond’s advances, plans are uncovered (in the aforementioned secret room) and they’re off again into the desert to find the Top Secret SPECTRE base. There’s a classic Bond-on-a-train fight with Hinx, Swann changes her mind and is now madly in love with Bond.
See? I told you this was classic Bond territory. Quite why Oberhauser wanted to build his top secret base in the middle of NOWHERE (yet hold his meetings in Rome) is beyond me. There was a random meteorite though, so perhaps that had something to do with it.
It’s a great Evil Villain Lair though. Not quite up to Ken Adam‘s legendary works, but pretty good nonetheless. The meteorite was a nice touch.
Oberhauser: Why did you come?
Bond: I came here to kill you.
Oberhauser: And I thought you came here to die.
Bond: Well, it’s all a matter of perspective.
Bond is tortured (eww) by Oberhauser. It’s pretty hard to watch until you get distracted as I did by the fact that Oberhauser, for reasons best known to his evil self, isn’t wearing any socks. WHY ARE YOU NOT WEARING SOCKS?
And what is that white cat doing there?
Oberhauser: [stroking the white cat] Franz Oberhauser died twenty years ago, James. In an avalanche alongside his father. A man you’re talking to now, a man inside your head, is Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Oh, you’re Blofeld after all? Splendid! NOW we’re getting somewhere. Ed (14) was *very* confused at this point though. I forgot that he has essentially no frame of reference for this revelation and only knows the Daniel Craig era Bond. I wonder how many other people in the audience were going ‘err, who?’ at this point.
I really did like Christophe Waltz in this movie, a lot. Barring the odd fashion choices, obviously. He was deliciously evil in a perky, louche sort of way. I hope we see more of him in the future.
There are more shenanigans back in London. M, Q, Moneypenny and Tanner all step up and get involved in the plot before the final climactic showdown (and if that’s not a tautology, I don’t know what is).
It was great to see the gang working together. Moneypenny had Useful Things to Do, Q had some great one-liners
[Q hands Bond a watch]
Bond: What does it do?
Q: It tells the time.
and M is suitably M-ish. C gets his Comeuppance and there’s a thrilling finale where Bond races against the clock (literally) to save Swann.
Phew! Bond, of course, will return. Will Daniel Craig though? Or is it time for another incarnation?