Spectre—James Bond’s 24th film, is a fantastic blockbuster that unfortunately reverts back to the pre-Daniel Craig franchise Bond formula that we are all used to. Although the film will break several box office records, it will be at the cost of sacrificing the progress that the franchise was making since it was rebooted with Casino Royale in 2006.
Daniel Craig returns in his fourth outing as James Bond, and Spectre will confirm to many how great a Bond he has become; be that according to how much muscle he flexes, or how he oozes with charm—turning it on and off with the flick of a switch. As a suave combination between Sean Connery’s sophisticated style and Roger Moore’s cheesiness, Daniel Craig has managed to craft his own version of Bond into a much more grittier version than any other previous incarnation.
In regards to the speculation that this will be Craig’s final outing as Bond, the story arc that Spectre finally manages to complete would allow Craig to gracefully bow out on a high. Spectre does not make it his return awkward. In fact, it would make sense considering his love interest at the end of the film—and several will hope that will be the case.
Alongside Craig is a Bond cast that emphasises how strong the relationships between the ‘Bond family’ are. Back in M’s classic wood-panelled office, we have a team consisting of Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner. In regards to this group, Fiennes and Whishaw are deserved of a second mention. Fiennes does well to fill the gap that Dame Judi Dench left, allowing the film to glaze over her omission, and Whishaw’s onscreen chemistry with Craig is splendid.
The new Bond girls consist of Lucia Sciarra, played by Monica Bellucci, the first ‘Bond lady’ at age 50, and Madeleine Swann, played by Léa Seydoux. Although both performed well, their characters do not live up to the promises that Spectre would be revolutionary in its treatment of women. Bellucci appears on screen for less than a few minutes, and although Seydoux’s character initially seems like she, too, may prove to be revolutionary—her first few appearances on screen, showing off her character as a strong, independent woman, are brushed aside by Bond because she is in shock. By the end of the film, both characters are completely disempowered and blur into the Bond girl canon, oozing with sex appeal as they go. They join Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny, who is demoted to M’s secretary.
As members of Spectre, Dave Bautista plays the silent Mr Hinx, and Christoph Waltz plays the ominous Franz Oberhauser. Their onscreen presences are both well constructed, and both actors do extremely well to mould their characters into classic Bond villains. Mr Hinx is a towering, grunting wall of muscle and Waltz’s Oberhauser is a true psychopath and a pivotal character in regards to completing the story arc that the franchise has seen since it was rebooted.
In Spectre, director Sam Mendes has crafted a brilliant film that fits with the tried and tested Bond formula that we are used to. Although several aspects of the film thrive off of said formula such as the plot and the Bond villains, the antiquated Bond girls are confined to it, detracting from the reality that Spectre is trying to immerse us in. All in all, it is such a shame to see Bond return to a formula that the series seems to have outgrown. But, it is a formula that works, and Spectre is ultimately an awesome film, with Daniel Craig spearheading a cast at the top of their game, several gags that will certainly draw a smile, thrilling set pieces, sexy Bond girls and a fantastically villainous organisation that ties up several loose ends that have been haunting the franchise since it was rebooted.
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