By Thomas Simpson
Bond is back with some familiar foes in tow. Fans of the series will be happy with nods to previous installments while those that favor the grittier realism of the Daniel Craig era will be equally as satisfied with Spectre.
The action starts off with one of the most impressive opening scenes in recent Bond history as 007 battles terrorists in Mexico. Upon killing one of the men, Bond steals the man’s ring, a symbol that he belongs to a shadowy organization of super-villains. On top of all that, M (Ralph Fiennes) has his own war to fight as he struggles to keep the 00 program from being disbanded by the joint head of intelligence services, C (Andrew Scott).
Bond is put on indefinite leave–however he isn’t about to rest on his laurels. He has promises to keep, asked posthumously by the previous M (Judi Dench) which charts him on a head on collision with a very personal enemy.
Skyfall promised to be a throwback to the traditional Bond era yet Sam Mendes’ film only teased this. With Spectre he injects more wit and gadgets into the film and peppers it with homages to other Bonds. Not that this is a rehash of older films, Spectre is its own beast and helps cement Craig as one of the best Bonds. Everyone will have their opinion on who played the character best yet few can deny that Craig is deserving of the role with initial criticism seeming.
Much was made of Monica Bellucci being the oldest Bond girl; unfortunately she plays second fiddle to the Bond girl, Lea Seydoux. Seydoux puts on a fine performance as Madeleine Swann but Craig and she lack any chemistry and I found it hard to buy into their relationship. This is only emphasized by the smouldering, yet limited, screen time Bellucci and Craig share.
Another new addition is Dave Bautista who plays the murderous assassin Mr. Hinx. A former pro-wrestler, Bautista is huge, intimidating and menacing. He poses a legitimate threat to Bond and delivers a fierce performance, creating a memorable villain.
The real big bad is Franz Oberhausers. He is a super-villain of old, a megalomaniacal madman with his own secret lair. Waltz looks to be having fun in the role as he playfully tortures Bond and delivers eerie and cryptic clues as to his origin. For an actor of his caliber he feels criminally underused however there is no denying that there is a mystique to him that doesn’t fade after the third act double reveal.
Spectre might not be remembered as a classic Bond film, or even the best one to feature Daniel Craig, but it’s full of fun and thrills, well deserving of your hard-earned money. Its run time may test your bladder but you won’t be checking your watch to see how long is left either. It dips a little in the middle but it never drags. The set-pieces are fantastic and the action spectacular. Bond is back and cinema should be thankful for it.
Thomas Simpson is a writer and filmmaker based in Glasgow, U.K. Find him on Twitter: @Simmy 41.