Spectre (2015, Sam Mendes)

The good news is that the new Bond, Spectre, has a pretty damn sexy pre-title sequence, staged at the Day of the Dead festival in Mexico. The bad news is pretty much the rest of the film.

The pre-title looks fantastic; Spectre’s cinematographer is Hoyte van Hoytema who worked with Tomas Alfredson on Let the Right One In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It begins with a rather impressive long take of Bond in a skull-mask moving through the enormous crowd and up onto the roof of a building. I’m not suggesting that overnight Sam Mendes has metamorphosed into Brian De Palma, but he has at least finally learnt – after 6 films – that you are allowed to move the camera. Mendes also flaunts his cine-literacy with a sequence that has nods to both Touch of Evil and The Godfather Part II.

Alas, after this standout opening, Spectre goes downhill faster than a Pierce Brosnan. The film is like a greatest hits of disappointing moments –

Bond’s in the snow! Oh…it’s an embarrassing action sequence where 007 suddenly finds himself flying a plane with no explanation.

Christoph Waltz! Oh…he’s facetiming in his performance while thinking about that juicy pay cheque.

The Villain’s Lair! Oh…nothing appears to actually be happening there and it gets blown up after 10 minutes in virtually an aside.

Added to all that, the great Monica Bellucci is given a criminally condensed role that amounts to little more than a glorified cameo. All that pre-release talk of a 50 year-old ‘Bond girl’ has turned out to be bollocks. I mean, why should Daniel be saddled with someone 3 years his senior when there’s a 17 years younger model waiting for him in Act II?

They save the worst for last: the climax gives us the old ticking time bomb/damsel in distress routine. I’m not bullshittin, dawg. Seriously?! Is that the best 4 credited screenwriters can come up with?

There is one notable, and not unwelcome, moment…

Am I mistaken, or did Bond (albeit only for a brief period) actually get dumped in this film?

Sam Bowles


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