By Joshua Ford
As a lifelong Bond fan and stickler for order, clarity and resolution Spectre needed to tie up all the loose ends from the Daniel Craig era. If the speculation was true and this was to be his last Bond outing, then I required nothing less than a finale in which the next Bond, whoever that may be, could walk into a fresh pair of 007 shoes. And after a lengthy run time of 148 minutes, (the longest yet) I got my ending.
The trailer impressed me, with the audience aware from the very beginning that this film would take place immediately after the events of Skyfall. The still unmended shell that was the famous MI6 headquarters served to reveal this. Also, Moneypenny’s name dropping of the previous title furthered my excitement for a sequel and continuity. Yet, in my mind was the lingering fear of another Quantum of Solace, an already disregarded Bond film because of its inability to stand up as a singular part of the franchise, it was what many called Casino Royale Part II. But, in the age of franchise and Harry Potter, this seemed an accepted formula to use, and I can see why Sam Mendes took this approach. We, the audience want the character development of Bond and a Craig legacy that spans all of his appearances.
But, sequels have never really been a big part of the James Bond franchise. Each film, traditionally being made to stand up as movie that features a particular Bond within a different set of plot parameters, each one a separate ‘mission’ into the unknown. A space station, an underwater lair or a secret volcanic hideout have all served as perfect villainous refuges in previous Bond adventures. Yet, Spectre, and the previous Craig films thwart this tradition. Instead, overarching themes emerge, namely; what is MI6’s role in a world where traditional Cold War espionage is viewed as outdated and the globe is hyper-connected. This is something all four Craig films try to pose, and in Spectre it does seem to grow pretty thin, I was repeatedly asking myself if I had seen this film before. Indeed, I had, at least three times. Yet, my overwhelming want for a continuous series of events took over, I wanted it to fit into a sequence, and it did. But in doing so it also seemed to render the three previous films as insignificant in the grand scale of things. (Spoiler alert) with the organisation SPECTRE masterminding the entire basis of the previous films. In other words, the connection felt forced but necessary for the longevity of the Craig era.
The most disappointing element of this film was, for me, that nothing seemed to surprise or shock. I felt by watching the trailer before hand I had seen the entire film, despite its great length, I was constantly waiting for the ‘oh my god’ moment which didn’t arrive. It was the unoriginality for the most part, which did excited me. I think the excitement came from my nostalgic view of what a Bond film should be. It had the seemingly unbreakable henchman, Hinx (played by Dave Bautista), a silent juggernaut portrayed in the vain of the enduring Jaws. The Moore style comedy, in one part Bond falling from a dangerous height only to be saved by an optimally placed sofa breaking his fall. And of course, the resurrection of the definitive evil and world dominating organisation SPECTRE. While I really enjoyed the nods to the previous, and older films, I was ultimately left craving something new, wondering how much life the Bond franchise actually had left in it. The question I left the cinema with was, where can it go from here?
However, there were plenty of redeeming features, for instance the first scene. The Mexican, ‘Day of the Dead’ festival, a perfect Bond-like location, with hidden corners and corridors which are juxtaposed by colourful crowded spaces. This is the first opening of any Bond film to use a single tracking shot to follow the action. And it worked, gripping and created a sense of urgency, I was amazed that this was in fact a Bond film and not Bourne. We also see the unity of MI6, working together quite literally on the field of duty. M’s returning character (Ralph Fiennes) actually picking up a gun in an interesting new dynamic, which earlier saw the character resigned to bureaucracy. We also see Q (Ben Whishaw) working together with Bond and putting himself in considerable danger, and finally see an end to the misogynistic relationship between Bond and Moneypenny, (played by a returning Naomie Harris) no sexual innuendo in this one.
In the end, I really enjoyed this classic Bond adventure, which features some breathtaking locations and great action sequences, as well as a solid performance from the strong Bond girl Lea Seydoux. I was left ultimately disappointed when the credit sequence rolled, realising I would have to wait at least another two years before the installment. Definitely though go and see this, if you’re a diehard or new to the series, it is as epic as a Bond film can be, and even returns the prominent ‘gun barrel sequence’ to the beginning of the film (a main grievance of mine). Will I buy the DVD? No. I’ll buy it on Blu- ray to fit in with my year by year sequenced fiftieth anniversary collection box set. Oh, and there’s a white cat in it!
Joshua is a 3rd year BA (Hons) English Student.