Spectre Film Review

Film Review by Jon E Clist

The Premise
A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia, the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE. Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh, the new head of the Centre of National Security, questions Bond's actions and challenges the relevance of MI6 led by M. Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny and Q to help him seek out Madeleine Swann, the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White, who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of the assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot. As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks.

The Review
Talk about a mixed bag of reviews for the latest Bond film. The first reviews to come out of the US seemed to say that this was the Bond of all Bonds and then so many of the local reviewers seemed to feel that it was rather sub-par and yet the general people that I have chatted with, loved it.

Spectre is not a perfect film and nor is it an amazing piece of cinematic art. Yet for me it achieves what it likely set out to do… Entertain an audience. The opening stunt sequence is certainly up there as one of the best stunt sequences of all time for Bond films. The chases through Mexico City amongst the Day of the Dead celebrations is something rather magical. It is intense and as we watched it on the imax screen it was so very in your face. You can certainly see what Daniel Craig has come out saying that Bond films nearly kill him. In fact he said that it was getting harder and harder to get fit for his shirtless scenes as Bond at the age of 47 saying, "Am I getting my kit off in this movie? Of course I'm getting my kit off! I seem to be bare-chested throughout this film again! Yes, I've been working out for six months. I work myself to death' to get fit. No secret method involved, just sheer hard graft. It's getting harder I will admit, but such is life. I'll keep going as long as I'm physically able."

Now no expense has been spared in the making of this film and many things are destroyed, blown up or just plain run over. With an estimated US$300 to $350-million-dollar budget, this is the most expensive James Bond movie ever made. (The previous had been Quantum of Solace with an estimated budget of around US$200-250 million.) For sure we can see that director Sam Mendes likes to spend other people’s money. This is evident in just how lush so much of this film is. Visually there are plenty of locations and amazing scenes that at times make it feel like an ad for Lonely Planet’s guide to great places to do crazy stuff. (Wouldn’t that be a great travel guide?)

The only thing that kind of lets the film down a little is the way in which they have tried to cram quite a bit of obvious backstory and film linking into what could have been a little more of a standalone story, like most Bond films are. Yet I guess this new world of Bond that we have seen come along with Daniel Craig is grittier and has certainly had more themes and threads pulling the films together. Never before have we seen an evil agency be featured and slowly revealed across multiple Bond films.

Plus there is a real lack of gadgets overall and the main one featured is kind of a rehash of ones in the past. With that and the return of the catchphrases, you really get the feeling that this film is about giving nods back to the original premise of Bond over the past many decades and I guess at times it feels a little forced. Oh and I should point out that I really love the new Bond song from Sam Smith. The Writing’s on The Wall is a lovely touch of class. Here it is…

Now as far as the casting goes, we all love Christoph Waltz after he was thrown into the fray by Tarrantino in Inglorious Basterds, and yet here I think he could have been a little more menacing. However, I do remember at the time thinking, how clever it was that he was underplaying it. In hindsight I am not sure whether it was a good or bad thing. Then we have the Bond Girls, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Monica Bellucci is by far one of the most beautiful women ever and the perfect choice for featuring in a Bond film and yet she is not utilised enough. Brought in and then left out to make room for the skinny younger model, who brings a nice touch of moody and independent but doesn’t quite have the oomph that a Bond Girl needs.

The Verdict
Bond as you would expect, the catch phrases, the cars, the gadgets, the stunts, the ladies and the Bond. Very entertaining and a nice continuation of the current Bond series.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 12th November 2015
Rating: - Contains violence
Duration: 148 minutes 
Genre:  Action
Starring: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista and Ben Whishaw
Director: Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty)

The Extras
At fifty-one years of age when the film was released, Italian actress Monica Bellucci becomes the oldest ever actress to play a leading Bond Girl role beating Honor Blackman who was thirty-eight years old when she starred in Goldfinger (1964). Bellucci was born in 1964, the same year that Goldfinger (1964) was released.

Reportedly, director Christopher Nolan was being seriously considered to direct this film until Sam Mendes decided to come back for another film. Associate producer Gregg Wilson has said: "Christopher Nolan would be a 'dream' choice for a future Bond director. We would of course be interested to have a discussion with him. We would like to do the same type of movie. It would be a dream to be with Nolan. But we always have an open mind when it comes to directors."

English actor Gary Oldman was approached for the role of Franz Oberhauser but he was unwilling to commit to six months’ production worldwide. In the end, the part was cast with Christoph Waltz.

Fourth appearance by Daniel Craig as James Bond. Craig is also contracted for a fifth turn in Bond 25. Speculation around the time of the release of this movie has amounted as to whether Craig will do a fifth film. Craig's fourth appearance as James Bond ties with Pierce Brosnan's number of appearances in the Bond film franchise. Together, they tie for the actor with the third most number of appearances in a Bond film, after Roger Moore with seven, and Sean Connery with six, but the latter also ties with Moore if one counts the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983).

First Bond film not to feature the iconic trumpet playing of Derek Watkins. Since Dr. No (1962), Mr Watkins had featured on the soundtrack of every single Bond film until his passing away shortly after the release of Skyfall (2012).

In December 2014, nine high-end Land Rover Discoverys, including five customized Range Rover Sports, valued at about UK £630,000 (US $1 million) set for filming in the Austrian Alps, were stolen from a parking lot in Neuss (near Düsseldorf/Germany).

Despite Skyfall (2012) being shot entirely in digital, and rumors that Bond movies would be shot digitally from then on, this and Bond 25 will be shot on 35mm film.

Since this film does not use an original Ian Fleming story title, there are still only four unused original titles remaining: "The Property of a Lady", "The Hildebrand Rarity", "Risico" and "007 in New York" (aka "Agent 007 in New York").

First ever James Bond movie where the actor playing the James Bond character is credited on the film in a producing capacity [Daniel Craig is billed as a co-producer].

Dave Bautista is the fourth actor with a professional wrestling background to play a James Bond villain, following in the footsteps of Harold Sakata [Goldfinger (1964)], Peter Fanene Maivia [You Only Live Twice (1967)] and Pat Roach [Never Say Never Again (1983)].