3.5 out of 5 stars
‘You are a kite flying in a hurricane, Mr Bond.’
Walking into the cinema...
Spectre has quite a mountain to climb in living up to the spectacle that was Skyfall. Can Sam Mendes deliver another winner with 007?
Thus begins another chapter in the saga of the legendary MI6 agent. Continuing the story where Skyfall left off, the British intelligence community is in disarray because of the death of M and a government agency is trying to make the secret agents obsolete. After leaving a personal mission in Mexico City, James finds himself suspended from the agency. During his dramatic mission Mexico, he gains a lead to a mysterious organisation called Spectre that is connected with terrorist activity around the world. He decides to keep busy during his suspension. As he digs deeper into his new found information, he not only finds that this group is a threat to the world's security and it forces him to confront more elements from his past. James must follow his leads and instincts to find the meaning behind Spectre’s plans and answers to his suspicions before this mysterious force controls the world.
With all of the Bond films, comparisons are inevitable. In comparison to Skyfall, this spy outing is second best, but on the scale of all Bond films, Spectre would still be at the top of the list. It is not as groundbreaking as its predecessor, because it is more of the second chapter to James Bond's history.
What was captivating about the first film was director Sam Mendes cinematic eye and preference for majestic scenery. His abilities for cinematography are stunning, but he can have a tendency to linger a bit too long for an espionage tale. The beautiful worldwide landscapes can be a strength and a weakness for Mendes and for Spectre it is the latter. This Bond film is too long, because James must traverse through extensive scenery in some of the world's most picturesque locations. Fortunately, the beautiful scenery is pieced together with brilliantly choreographed chase sequences, fight scenes and a captivating support cast that save this episode within the franchise.
Daniel Craig continues to hold confidently onto the mantel of 007 and he proves that he still deserves to be the face of the franchise. Admittedly, he is one of the best Bonds and will be hard to replace. His only limitation is the character of James Bond. Spectre shows the value of the agent programme, but the challenge is to the ideology of the 007 qualities. He looks great in the vast array of costume changes, he proves his moxy in any fight scene, but the treatment of his lead women seems a bit antiquated. To have these strong female characters to go weak at the knees for the British agent becomes comical in this modern era. The crowd actually laughed before one of the inevitable scenes of passion. To see Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux become putty in his hands within moments of meeting the secret agent seems unbelievable and is a waste of some of the best women to cross paths with the martini drinking assassin.
What differentiates great Bond films from the mediocre is the villain and this is what makes Spectre a distant second to Skyfall. In this outing, Mendes has to deliver three villains in an attempt to defeat Bond. Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Bastards) has made a career of portraying cinematic villains, but this one was a miss. He has the voice, but not the presence to go toe to toe with Daniel Craig's interpretation of Bond. The two time Academy Award winner has the acting chops, but he is not allowed to develop this character to much more than a shadow of Silva (Javier Bardem) in Skyfall. Mendes attempts to add muscle to the fight against the MI6 team by including Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) as the assassin, Hinx. Unfortunately, like the woman in the film, he is under-utilised and it is completely unbelievable that Craig could deliver any sort of damage to this hulk of a man. The saving grace for the villainy factor was Andrew Scott (Sherlock) who delivers the needed smarmy elements to provide the needed dark side to this tale of espionage.
In the long history of Bond films, Spectre qualifies as one of the better choices. It suffers by having to follow after the groundbreaking Skyfall. Sam Mendes has put his stamp on this franchise but I hope he is willing to pass the baton onto the next director to continue the Bond tradition. Fortunately, Daniel Craig and the MI6 team prove that they can carry this franchise for another day and provide a promising future for Bond.
Bigger questions: The issue is control. Who is really in control of this world? Watching Spectre leads one to think that with the right amount of money and information, anyone could run this world and control the lives of all on the planet. James Bond manages to prove that this is merely a pipe-dream for the world's wealthiest. Yet, the Bible does provide us with an answer to the question. Even when this world seems out of control, there is one who is all-knowing, all-powerful and everywhere. The God of the Bible continues to prove that despite what the media and entertainment tell us, he is in control.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
1. Who is in control of this world? (Joshua 1:9, Proverbs 19:21)
2. What does the Bible say about hope? (Jeremiah 29:11, Roman 8:24-25)
3. Where do I turn when I am in trouble? (John 16:33, Philippians 4:6)
Leaving the cinema...
Good, but not great. Beautiful, but not breathtaking. Fun, but forgettable. Spectre proves to be a good follow-up to Skyfall and worth getting out to see in theatres.