When you think about influential franchises that completely changed the way a specific genre navigates through its stylistic and format decisions; the Bond franchise is what drastically altered our perception of action in the contemporary world. It has been consistently revolutionizing not just the action genre, but also the entirety of the espionage/spy film genre since its beginning over 55 years ago. So, with the franchise being one of the few series that has continuously existed despite the actors being changed coming around for another ride. We just knew we had to review it, right before the release of No Time to Die.
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The Movie Review
Spectre’s story revolves around the MI6 agent James Bond, codenamed 007. Bond receives a message from an entity simply known as M. He gets suspended from duty and spends his entire time now focusing on that ominous message that he receives. Eventually, events transpire and conspiracies bind together as Bond is now pitted against the worldwide criminal syndicate known as Spectre.
The leader of Spectre wishes to launch a national surveillance system that will aid him in masterminding criminal activities and syndicates throughout the world. The leader of the Spectre is Ernst Stavro Blofeld and only James Bond, the world’s most eccentric and lethal spy can stop him.
Helmed by none other than the 1917 director Sam Mendes, who previously created the popular Bond film Skyfall; Spectre is also drowning in style and aesthetic. The film’s visual element is just as strong as it was during the Skyfall era, and in some parts even better than Skyfall. The best thing about this film is definitely its pacing, though, the film is slow yet it never feels like a slow burner. It is always throwing curveballs story-wise and giving you brand new things to think about during each scene that pops up on the screen.
However, it does fail in some aspects of storytelling, where it doesn’t match up the quality of writing as it did in Skyfall or even in Casino Royale. Mendes’ story is very ambitious, yet it feels somewhat shortsighted as he doesn’t really explore the depth of his characters much. He essentially just pushes the narrative more and more than the antagonist played by Waltz has a motivation for his deeds yet it never comes to show.
There’s a huge cast of characters here and each one is played by a brilliant actor. From Daniel Craig’s somewhat underwhelming performance as the MI6 super spy to the brilliant performances by the eccentric villain Blofeld played by Christoph Waltz and the brilliant Dr. Madeleine Swann played by French femme fatale Lea Seydoux; most of the performances here are insanely well done.
The characters of Blofeld and Swann in particular are show stealers, who take the center stage in this story and are way more powerful in terms of characters than even Bond himself. Daniel Craig’s unhappiness with the studio was also a reason for his performance being somewhat underwhelming, and his character not being the best version of itself that it could be.
The visuals in this film though, as nothing short of spectacular. There is an abundance of visual storytelling here which not even hardcore Bond fans had seen coming. It’s a film that chooses to show more than tell. However, that does come as an issue at times because there are moments where the film does tedious exposition dumps especially through characters such as Madeleine Swann.
It feels somewhat anti-purpose as you can usually tell what is going on and what will happen next due to what is happening, yet the film still gives you expository dialogue.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Spectre is a film that could have been so much better if there was more of a focus on overall character writing and less on expository dialogue to spoon-feed the audience information. It’s a film that has an exciting visual direction, and some thrilling action set-pieces yet it manages to do poorly in the writing department. The performances are stellar by 90% of the cast, yet the main character doesn’t seem like the version that we’ve come to know and love.
Still, it’s a decent film overall that you do have to watch as a Bond fan; Christoph Waltz’s performance itself will be reason enough.