With the fate of world freedom, not to mention the 00 program, hanging in the balance James Bond must go rogue on a mission set by the previous ‘M’, from beyond the grave, to uncover a vast criminal conspiracy that is as close to home as it is world encompassing.
With closing of the last instalment in the Bond franchise, Skyfall, promising a return to an old-school type of Bond adventure, Spectre, even in title, looked set to truly shed the Bourne inspired, but now unnecessary tone that the franchise used to shake away the cobwebs.
SPECTRE, the name of the criminal organisation from way back in the original Sean Connery Bond films, seems to be the perfect franchise addition to make a comeback to recall the past glories of the character while leaving concepts open enough for contemporary interpretations, but while the components of this latest Bond instalment could have added up to being a possible classic of the series, it’s ties to the last three films hinder it quite significantly.
What do I mean by this? Well, the plot of Spectre is a daft, fun and very much of a Bond ilk, leaving lots of room for action, romance, explosions, product placement, fine dress-wear and wacky villains with world domination in mind, and happily most of these factors hit home making the film highly enjoyable.
Unfortunately, since Casino Royale these latest instalments of the Bond franchise have tried to create an ongoing saga, mapping out Bond’s fate and importance beyond saving the world fairly regularly. This didn’t work too badly in Royale and Skyfall, but Quantum of Solace was a duff and the constant references actively work against Spectre.
This is primarily because the entire Bond saga hasn’t been thought out ahead of time, instead the writers seem to be wracking their brains from film to film, straining like hell to come up with ways to draw him into the plot beyond just being the guy who saves the day and gets some shags; retroactively slipping in more events from his past that coincidentally bring him closer the events of each given film.
This may or may not have been necessary for the past the films, even if it convoluted their plots a little too wantonly, but all it has done for Spectre is extend the running time to an unnecessary two and a quarter hours while weakening the central plot and detracting focus from what could have been a brilliant villain.
Sam Mendez has put together a great looking film with all the fantastic locales and epic destruction we’ve come to expect from a Bond film, but the attempts at humour fall flat due to the fact that they are ill conceived or ill timed; you can see what he’s trying to do though and it’s sort of admirable even while its making you squirm a little.
Too long and with too much referencing of the previous instalments/deviances into Bond’s past that weaken the central conceit, Spectre is otherwise a decent attempt to take Bond back to his original roots, with great visuals and action. It might have been one of the greats with more focus on Christoph Waltz’ excellent villain but as it stands it’s just another enjoyable Bond film.