SPECTRE REVIEW BY GREG LEWIS
SPECTRE is the fourth outing with Daniel Craig playing Ian Fleming’s iconic spy James Bond and the 24th entry in the franchise’s history. Craig doesn’t appear any worse for the wear in this latest installment as he deftly pulls off the hyper-demanding physical requirements of Bond and looks just as good wearing a Saville Row suit while enjoying his signature martini shaken not stirred.
Spectre begins with possibly one of the strongest opening sequences in the franchises recent history as Bond navigates an assassination assignment in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead ceremony. A jaw-dropping helicopter sequence follows and the film is literally off with a bang. The rest of the film never quite captures the intensity of the first 15 minutes or so despite an impressive number of action sequences and strong performances by the supporting characters when hand-to-hand combat is not occurring.
Spectre follows Bond and latest Bond girl Madelaine Swann (played by doe-eyed Lea Seydoux) as they attempt to bring down the terrorist organization “Spectre” that has orchestrated a number of attacks globally. This film does not work from a Fleming novel and feels all the more rooted in the 21st century as a result. The notion of technological menace, constant surveillance and the government’s ability to keep an omnipresent eye on the entire nation gives it a far more modern and eerily realistic feeling than many previous Bond films.
Spectre doesn’t bring as many new revelations to the franchise as the last Bond film, Skyfall did. However, it does a great job of weaving together Craig’s previous three outings as Bond and gives some deferential nods to the series Dr. No origins.
The ethereally beautiful Seydoux makes a capable if not particularly memorable ‘Bond girl’. Judi Dench’s absence from the film is definitely palpable and viewers will no doubt miss the chemistry between her M and Craig’s Bond. Try as he might, Ralph Fiennes never quite comes close to filling Dench’s shoes as her no nonsense successor. Ben Whishaw continues to be a scene-stealer in the small but pivotal role of Q. Andrew Scott as the duplicitous C is a standout among the supporting cast.
Christoph Waltz is ideally cast to play the film’s main villain, and despite the very modern backdrop of technological peril, his character is clearly based on previous (and therefore a bit antiquated) Blofeld incarnations. Waltz’ Blofeld has less of a physical presence than previous Bond villains but instead of detracting from the film it actually allows for some truly absorbing scenes, though the dialogue in which he and Bond engage never comes close to matching the crackling repartee between Bond and Skyfall’s villain Silva.