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Film Title

Spectre

Director

Sam Mendes

Starring

  • Daniel Craig as James Bond
  • Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser
  • Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
  • Ben Whishaw as Q
  • Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny
  • Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
  • Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
  • Ralph Fiennes as M
  • Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh
  • Jesper Christensen as Mr. White

It was going to be a hard act to follow the phenomenal success and acclaim that Skyfall experienced, but I’m happy to report that Spectre, the 24th Bond movie is excellently done and hugely entertaining on almost every level. Bringing back some of the classic formula that makes the series so enjoyable in the first place, Spectre scores high points.

We begin in Mexico during the Day of the Dead, where Bond is on an unofficial mission as ordered by the former M before her death. Spectre PosterHe is tracking an international criminal named Marco Sciarra who is planning to blow up a prominent stadium. Before he can do this Bond intervenes in typically bombastic fashion and gives chase to the mafia boss, ending up with the two of them battling it out in a helicopter slowly spinning out of control. Bond overpowers him and manages to claim his ring, which bears a curious octopus symbol. Meanwhile, back in London, the current M is under pressure when Bond returns because his actions play into the hands of ambitious Security Chief Max Denbigh. The cocky upstart has plans to rid MI6 of the 00 section, seeing it as old and outdated. Though disciplined by M to stay and not doing anything rash, Bond, enlisting the covert services of loyal Moneypenny and gadget man Q, travels to Rome to uncover more about the syndicate the Sciarra was part of. Through contact with the forbidden Lucia, who is the widow of Sciarra, he finds the meeting place. It transpires that the organisation is the nefarious SPECTRE, who are behind worldwide acts of chaos and evil. Most alarming of all is the fact that the head of it is someone from Bond’s past known as Franz Oberhauser. Travelling to Austria, where he encounters former enemy Mr White, who is dying and in his last moments gives Bond precious information, Bond is set for a globetrotting adventure that also takes him to Tangier. Madeleine SwannHe is further aided by Mr White’s intelligent daughter Dr Madeleine Swann, as he unearths the full nature of the crime group and confronts his own past in a mission that gets personal and very dangerous.

Sam Mendes successfully returns to the director seat again and works marvels with Spectre. Sprinkling proceedings with humour, action and dangerous elegance, he captures the world of Bond with excitement and panache. I enjoyed seeing Mendes tipping his hat to some of the older movies in the series, specifically From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Style oozes from the frames of this movie and special mention must go to the dazzling opening sequence. Spectre Opening SceneThe sweeping nature of the tracking shot that begins the film is stunning and it burns itself deep into the mind for its skill, as well as the rest of the action-packed sequence that begins things with one hell of a bang. And I must give credit to the lovely cinematography that gives each new location on Bond’s journey a sense of dangerous atmosphere and international intrigue. OberhauserWhether it be the burned oranges of shadowy Rome to the exotic golden sheen of Morocco, Spectre never fails to engage on a visual level. For all the visual grandeur, at least Spectre has a good script and story to go along with too. I liked the reintroduction of humour again and the way it was balanced with suspense. There really are some cracking one liners in here that will raise a chuckle or so within the audience, but there is still a grittiness within that is typical of Craig’s tenure as 007. Spectre feels very much like a Bond movie of old in style and content, though mixed with up to date agendas and technology. Thomas Newman provides a stirring and sweeping score that acts as a an excellent accompaniment to the adventure on screen and is not afraid to break out the outrageous bombast of old. Though the Sam Smith song for the movie has caused an ambivalent response, the orchestra heavy ‘Writing’s On the Wall’ fits stunningly into an unusual title sequence of octopus tentacles crawling over lovely ladies, fiery elementals caressing Bond and flickers of the past in shattered glass.

In his fourth outing as 007, Daniel Craig is excellent and really looks comfortable with the part. He still brings a level of seriousness to the screen, but it’s fun to see him be quick-witted and ruthless with style. Bond and MadeleineIn other words, Craig brings a new lease of life to Bond by combining both of these qualities and emerging successful. Largely seen in the shadows for the first half but once unveiled a slimy presence, a superb Christoph Waltz imbues the villain Oberhauser with a sinister charm and quiet sense of being the one pulling a whole lot of strings. Portraying the primary Bond girl Madeleine Swann, Léa Seydoux is sultry, intuitive and well-rounded as we witness her being able to handle dangerous situations and be able to analyse Bond. There is something very layered about the character and through the talents of Seydoux, they shine through. Ben Whishaw is a hoot as Q, given more material and working wonders with some splendidly written scenes with Bond as he risks his job to help him on his mission. Naomie Harris shines as Moneypenny, who also risks her job to help Bond and has a natural sense of humour about her. The hulking and silent credentials of Dave Bautista make for a suitably menacing henchman who tangles with Bond on more than one occasion. Bond and LuciaIn a small but well-played part, the lovely Monica Bellucci plays a mob widow with a sense of melancholy and sexiness to her, who gives Bond some very important information regarding the eponymous group. Ralph Fiennes is great as M, who is not backing down from battling the forces that want to take away what he has worked for all this time. As the slick and brash Denbigh who has big plans and is thoroughly smug and condescending, Andrew Scott does a good job at making him really unlikable. And making a pivotal cameo is Jesper Christensen as former enemy Mr White who while dying after betraying SPECTRE, confides in Bond.

A well-shot, stylish and exciting Bond adventure, Spectre provides thrills and action that will leave you astonished and engrossed. I think it’s fair to say Spectre is a more than worthy follow-up to the amazing Skyfall.

 

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