James Bond 'Spectre' review: 'Daniel Craig still packs a punch'
Three years after the UK's highest grossing film of all time, Skyfall, its follow-up Spectre finally arrives on our screens. Though of course it’s the 24th in the series of an up and down franchise, it’s difficult not to compare this to the critical acclaim and hype created by the Oscar and BAFTA winning Skyfall. So does Spectre deliver?
Daniel Craig proves, on his fourth outing as Bond, that he still packs a punch as a leading man. As usual, there’s a lot for him to do and a lot of action for the audience to keep up with, but there’s something tired behind Bond's eyes this time, with Craig expressing at one point that he drinks ‘too much’. This is a dark and brooding 007: one that we’ve never seen before, and that really works in wake of the events of Skyfall.
In terms of the supporting cast, Naomie Harris shows real charisma and promise in her role of Moneypenny. Yet, like so many Bond females of the past, she’s criminally underused, as she steals the few real moments she’s given. Léa Seydoux also gives an intriguingly fearsome and unique performance as Dr. Madeleine Swann, but unfortunately her character loses momentum in the third act, as she falls into the trap of becoming one of cinema’s typical damsels in distress. We do, however get to see more of Ben Whishaw as Q, which adds some much needed heart in place of Judi Dench’s departure as M.
We’ve been spoilt with our antagonists over the past decade, with Javier Bardem and Mads Mikkelsen giving us some of the greatest Bond baddies of all time. Here, while Oscar-winning Christoph Waltz gives his all, we’re ultimately left with the exact same flamboyant wickedness we’ve now seen from him several times, in the likes of Inglorious Basterds and Big Eyes.
In terms of plot, Spectre is thin on the ground. There’s nothing hugely complex or rousing here, it’s a just a simple cat and mouse game, which will be fine for some, taking into account that this is Bond after all. But it’s still difficult to detach from the knowledge that Sam Mendes is capable of so much more. Skyfall was lined with an emotional core, which heightened the tension and made it much more than your typical spy film. In Spectre, we just don’t care quite as much.
Nevertheless, the dialogue delivered via John Logan’s script is still as camp, slick and whimsically British as you’d hope for from any Bond film, with Ralph Fiennes excelling in the delivery of his gags with effortless wit, as the newly appointed M.
Spectre’s biggest asset is of course the action, with a spectacle of an opening scene that really sets the bar for the rest of the film. The expansive scope here is bewildering as Bond moves from Mexico City to Rome, through Austria and back to London. It's abundantly clear how it’s been the most expensive Bond to date.
Overall, it is a step down in quality from the likes of Casino Royale and Skyfall, but it was always going to be a tall task to follow such fantastic filmmaking. Spectre is still easily better than Quantum of Solace, as we’re still presented with enough of the absurd thrills to keep us excited for what’s in store for Bond 25.
Spectre is released on October 26. RATING: 3/5Words by JOE PASSMORE